Children Versus Insurers

Consider the choice between two government programs.

Program A would provide essential health care to the eight million uninsured children in this country.

Program B would subsidize insurance companies, who would in turn spend much of the money on marketing and paperwork, and also siphon off a substantial fraction of the money as profits. With what’s left, the insurers would provide additional benefits, over and above basic Medicare coverage, to some older Americans.

Which program would you choose? If money is no object, you might go for both. But if you can only have one, it’s hard to see how anyone could, in good conscience, fail to choose Program A. I mean, even conservatives claim to believe in equal opportunity — and it’s hard to say that our society offers equal opportunity to children whose education may be disrupted, who may even find their lives cut short, because their families can’t afford proper medical care.

And here’s the thing: The question isn’t hypothetical. Universal health care may happen one of these years, but the choice between A and B is playing out right now.

Paul Krugman | The New York Times