Grading the Health Care Summit


Economist Arnold Kling is on the job:

The Democrats get a D+ because they supported a Medicare cost-cutting commission. That might lead to health care rationing, which would reduce costs. Not the way that I would prefer, but it would reduce costs….

On insurance reform, I give the Democrats an F because of their top-down, paternalistic approach. President Obama pretty much flat-out said that catastrophic insurance is bad insurance and needs to be regulated out of existence. In contrast, he called comprehensive insurance "good insurance," when it is not really insurance at all, but instead is a pre-paid service plan.

The Republicans get a D, because they showed scarcely any more trust in free markets than the Democrats. For example, one way they want to reform insurance is to get rid of lifetime caps. That is, an insurance company will say that no matter what happens to you, they will not pay more than, say, $5 million over the course of your life. This is an absurd, oxymoronic thing for an insurance company to do. You are asking me to insure the insurance company, instead of the other way around. Still, the government does not have to ban the practice. Instead, require prominent disclosure, and let people choose….

On the long-term outlook, the Republicans get an F, because they are still being demagogic on Medicare cuts. The Democrats get an F-, because they want to use Medicare cuts to create a new entitlement. Also, President Obama repeated the talking point that the whole issue is excess health care cost growth, when in fact the excess cost growth really kicks in big time (under standard assumptions) after 2030, by which point the U.S. government will already be unable to keep its financial promises because of the doubling of the number of people over age 65 and the big debt we already have.

Matt Welch on the summit from earlier today.

NEXT: Can Californians Watch Their Effin Language For One G-Darned Week?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. On insurance reform, I give the Democrats an F because of their top-down, paternalistic approach[…]
    The Republicans get a D, because they showed scarcely any more trust in free markets than the Democrats.

    Both fuckers deserve an F for Fascists. Both parties are populated by fascists. Obama may be a Marxist, but hios approach to government is totally fascistic, and so is the Republirats’ approach.

    1. They both deserve an F for “fucked us again!” That’s okay, ‘Bama. Ram it down our throats in 2010, we ram it up your ass in 2012.

  2. “when in fact the excess cost growth really kicks in big time (under standard assumptions) after 2030, by which point the U.S. government will already be unable to keep its financial promises because of the doubling of the number of people over age 65 and the big debt we already have.”

    That 2012, end-of-the-world thing is lookin’ better all the time.

    1. In the long run we are all dead.

      1. It’s your theory that’s dead!

        1. And so Hayek too, while never succumbing to Keynes’s ideas, did fall under his charismatic spell. In addition to creating the legend of Keynes’s change of heart, why did Hayek not demolish The General Theory as he had Keynes’s Treatise on Money? Hayek admitted to a strategic error, that he had not bothered to do so because Keynes was notorious for changing his mind, so Hayek did not think then that The General Theory would last. Moreover, as Mark Skousen has noted in chapter 1 of this volume, Hayek apparently pulled his punches in the 1940s in order to avoid interfering with Britain’s Keynesian financing of the war effort ? certainly an unfortunate example of truth suffering at the hands of presumed political expediency.

          1. Oh, F.A., you’re so cute when you get all wordy.

  3. Everyone knows the old expression that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. President Obama, you do way too much talking and not nearly enough listening.

    And the republicans still beat you like a drum even though you tried your best to hog the forum.

    1. Oooohh, they got a D instead of an F.

      “”republicans still beat you like a drum””

      Maybe in a Mel Torme way, not in a Dave Grohl way.

    2. He hasn’t gotten his way?uh?and that is now prompting a change in the Senate rules that really I think would change the character of the Senate uh forever and uh what I worry about would be that you essentially have still two chambers the House and the Senate but you have simply majoritarian uh absolute power on on either side and that’s just not what the Founders intended.

      1. What the FUCK would you know about what we intended?

  4. I think the problem is that there are three very different ideas of what is broken.

    The Dems place the emphasis on coverage – their biggest worry seems to be that some people don’t have health insurance or access to health care. They’re talking a bit about cost reduction, but it’s secondary to expanding coverage.

    The Republicans, to the extent that they even want to deal with health care, want to deal with the exploding costs which will eventually cause a massive tax hike. They don’t seem too concerned with expanding coverage, except paying it some lip service.

    I think most Americans, the ones who still have jobs anyway, care about rising out-of-pocket costs for health care. They’re a bit worried about long term costs to the government, and, sure, they’d like to expand coverage, too, but those are secondary.

    All three groups think of their own goals when they use the phrase “Health Care Reform”, which just ends up confusing things.

  5. Call it what you will, but I wont be giving up my H2 anytime soon!


    1. I’ve never seen the anonbot post in the wrong thread before.

      1. More evidence that it is achieving human-style “intelligence”.

  6. Well, the bottom line is since the ones who actually make the decisions in the end are all BOUGHT AND PAID for and safely in the hip pockets of the Medical, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, we are all DOOMED!


    1. That’s my brother James, and my other brother James.

  7. Don’t tell me this stupid mofo’s are going to take away my HSA.

    1. If we do not all (yet, again) rise up and scream “NO!!” they may very well. This current crop of liars and thieves seems to have a very short memory. They need to be told “NO!!!” quite often and have it repeated quite often.

    2. Yep, right before they come after your 401k.

  8. I can’t imagine why anyone would object to lifetime caps. First of all, the insurance company only has so much money. So if you want to spend more than that, you are going to have to earn it.

    I believe lifetime caps provide one of the better arguments against mandates, because if you save up more than the lowest cap, the state can’t claim having insurance would reduce the liklehood of uncompensated care.

  9. One-term president. Please oh please.

    Actually, every president should be a one term president. But especially this one.

    1. Hitler was a one-term president…

      1. Oy Gevalt!! But what a term!

        1. No fruit cup for you!

    2. I’m for him being a two-term president, as long as congress changes parties. That’d be gridlock because the O-boy is going to be utterly impotent.

      Which is as good as you can hope for it to get in today’s world.

      1. As much as I hate Obama, I think I’m in agreement here. I’d hate to see the Republicans take two branches of gov’t again.

      2. +1 on this. The average supporter of Obama really does not care if he gets anything done as long as he is there. I am fine with him in office as long as there as long as there is a check in Congress. I want a check to that R Congress too so Obama with Republican Congress sounds like a good scenario.

  10. “Health is wealth” is known to all and everyone wants good health. So, Let us build a food habit discipline, keep pace with work, rest and or exercise to Achieve good health, The ultimate wealth.

  11. I’m pushing for him to be a half-term president. I think he will resign by March 2011. You saw it here first.

    1. Douglas, you are funnier than the Friday funnies.

  12. Douglas, you are funnier than the Friday funnies.

    Now that’s damning with faint praise.

  13. Obama doesn’t deal with failure well. He is very thin skinned and nasty. When the Dems get killed in November it is going to be interesting to see his reaction. I think Douglas is a bit optimistic to think he will resign. But I would not be shocked if he got angry took his marbles and went home by not running for re-election in 2012.

    1. “Obama doesn’t deal with failure well.”


      In fact he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge it at all.

      Everything is always somebody else’s fault – usually George Bush’s.

      1. As weak as the “blame your predecessor” meme is, you have to admit GW is a pretty easy target.

    2. No way at all does Obama resign or not run for re-election. It would run contrary to every narcissistic, megalomaniacal, crypto-thuggish bone in his body.

      1. He is a guy who has literally never been told no in his entire life. He didn’t get that personality you speak of by accident. When he is told no and is slapped down by the electorate, he is not going to deal with it well at all. I am frankly a little nervous to see what he does. At heart, I think he is an overgrown child. And I don’t think he has the maturity to deal with a real set back. That is why I would not be surprised if he just quits.

  14. “He is a guy who has literally never been told no in his entire life.” John, I don’t see how you can draw that conclusion. Obama isn’t from money and I can’t help but observe that he was an outsider always looking in.

    1. I draw that conclusion because he is a guy who grew up going to elite schools and living in the world of academia and Chicago politics. He has never been around or had to deal in a serious way with people who are not liberal and couldn’t be bullied into submission.

      1. You assume that all liberals are warm and fuzzy toward each other. Obama’s elders in Chicago politics made no secret of slapping him around when he sought to advance “too far too fast”.

        1. Tulpa, I was thinking of that when I posted my reply below. People at the top are alpha and that was what Obama experienced from the get go.

  15. Regrettably (or not?), I only got to watch part of the summit. Can someone point me in the direction of Obama’s comments on catastrophic insurance?

  16. think you are confusing the desire to ‘show them I am even better’ with immaturity. Think about his humble beginnings: an absent immigrant father, young unmarried mother, living with grandparents, elite schools on tuition aid (if not tuition free), mixed race (when he was most certainly the minority). Kids like him grow up to be ambitious and resolved. I think setbacks have been the theme for his life. No way he would quit.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.