Monday, July 27, 2009

The Real Cost of Our Health Care Mess

Joe Klein makes a good point in response to talk about how much it is going to cost to cover everyone with health care:
Cover everyone and it costs more--but we don't know how much more, and it may cost less than we think. It will certainly cost less in the areas economists can't quantify, but which have very real economic impacts: in the level of panic and uncertainty that exists in the society, the opportunity cost in entrepreneurial energy among people who might start a new business but are locked into their jobs because they need their health benefits--and a thousand other, non-fiscal benefits.

One of my favorite Springsteen lyrics is, "We've got to start saving up for the things that money can't buy." That's the best argument for a health care system that costs less in anxiety and unfairness. In the end, a conversation about universal health care can't just be about money. It has to also be about values, about what sort of society we want to be--and need to be in an era of economic volatility and uncertainty.

It may very well cost us more money to insure everyone. Our taxes are almost certainly going to have to increase. But it is the right thing to do.

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