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America's Broken Health Insurance System
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Update 10/11/2007. Welcome, new visitors. Go here.


Paul Krugman has a column in today’s New York Times decrying America’s health care system. He supports–surprise!–a single payer approach.

I have commented before on the problems with central planning in health care. I certainly am not convinced that a government-run system is the answer, but I do agree with Krugman that there are serious problems with our health insurance system, particularly in the market for individually-purchased (non-group) coverage.

After my husband quit his job earlier this year (to become a full-time stay-at-home dad), we had a choice. We could either buy health insurance from his former employer through a program called COBRA at a cost of more than $1,000 per month(!) or we could go it alone in Maryland’s individual market. Given our financial circumstances, that “choice” wasn’t much of a choice at all. We had to go on our own.

We discovered that the most generous plans in Maryland’s individual market cost $700 per month yet provide no more than $1,500 per year of prescription drug coverage–a drop in the bucket if someone in our family were to be diagnosed with a serious illness.

With health insurance choices like that, no wonder so many people opt to go uninsured.

In the end, we decided to purchase a very high-deductible plan (sold by Golden Rule Insurance Co.) coupled with a tax-sheltered Medical Savings Account (MSA). We couldn’t qualify for the preferred rate because Golden Rule says I am underweight. Hmph! In any case, while Krugman and most Democrats don’t seem to like MSAs, in our case we were glad they were an option.

Update: The Times reports that the proportion of Americans without health insurance is on the rise. The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, says the proportion has remained steady. (Both are right; it depends on which timeframe one is talking about.) The WSJ editorial writers suggest:

States like New York could do a lot for [those who cannot obtain health insurance] merely by getting rid of the state insurance regulations that make a basic policy roughly 10 times more expensive than it is in neighboring Connecticut. Better still, Congress could save poor New Yorkers from the tyranny of Albany by putting an end to our Balkanized and anachronistic 50-state insurance market and simply decreeing that there shall be nationwide commerce in health insurance. They could then buy policies issued in saner states or over the Internet.

Update II: A reader questions Golden Rule’s decision to classify me as underweight:

They need Asian Women Weight Tables at the insurance companies! Not tables made for all the BIG Americans who are now suing McDonalds!

Update III: How much of the increased in uninsured is due to illegal immigration?

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Health care, Paul Krugman