Dear Mr. Krugman

by Don Boudreaux on June 9, 2014

in Health, Seen and Unseen

Prof. Paul Krugman:

Dear Mr. Krugman:

On your blog today you document that the percentage of Americans without health insurance has fallen since Obamacare kicked in.  You conclude that “[t]his is what success looks like.”

You miss the point of Obamacare’s most careful critics.

None of these critics denies that government can successfully use a mix of regulations, taxes, and subsidies to effectively mandate an increase in the number of Americans who have health-insurance policies.  Instead, the real concern is that Obamacare will either diminish the quality or the accessibility of actual health-care provision (rather than of health insurance) or that the costs of the extra health-care provision made possible by Obamacare - costs reckoned as the value of other goods and services sacrificed as a consequence - will be excessive.

Government’s success at mandating that more people have health insurance (or ‘better’ health insurance) no more implies that people thereby have better health care than would, say, government’s success at mandating that more people have jobs imply that people thereby have a higher standard of living.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030​​

….

David Henderson, over at EconLog, has a different (and, I think, complementary) take.

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