Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How will you pay for health care?

Normally, I think that Democrats are hopelessly inept at politics, but this ad - from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - is pretty clever.

Sure, when Republicans propose to end Medicare, that would seem to be a slam-dunk. But they've given Democrats such opportunities before - notably last fall, with their insistence that they'd only support tax cuts for the middle class if the wealthy got income and estate tax cuts - which the Democrats completely blew.

Of course, the real problem won't be coming up with the money to pay for health insurance. The problem will be that insurance companies won't want to insure the elderly. How can they make any money that way? The elderly all have a pre-existing condition: they're old.

After all, it's not the young who use health care, or not much. It's the elderly. In fact, a huge amount of our health care dollars go to care in the last year of a person's life. Insurance companies know that they can't raise premiums for the elderly high enough to make up for that.

And that's exactly why we have Medicare. We support Medicare for the elderly so that we'll have that same benefit when we get old. This is what civilized societies do. But unfortunately, there's a great debate in America about whether or not we want to be civilized.

PS. I liked Paul Krugman's comment about this: "Oh, and for all those older Americans who voted GOP last year because those nasty Democrats were going to cut Medicare, I have just one word: suckers!"