Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Young and the Productive
David Brooks’ article is very helpful in seeing what is at stake in the current healthcare debate. Obamacare promises to reconcile two apparent opposites:
1) Cover 31 million Americans who are currently uninsured.
2) Bend the cost curve
Now these two claims are incompatible since it should increase costs to cover people who were previously not covered. Brooks explains how these incompatible claims will be made compatible:
1) Cut Medicare payments
2) Raise taxes in the future (the present Congress requests future Congresses to do this.)
Lets look at the first one. Who will decide what Medicare payments are cut and what criterion will they use? A technocrat, a government bureaucrat with scientific expertise, will do so on the basis of “productivity.” In other words, the person’s medical costs will be covered if he is deemed productive member of society. This tips the scales in favor of the young and industrious in society.
This doesn’t mean the young have it made because there is still number two: Raise taxes in the future. Remember, taxes will be raised later, not now. It will be the young and productive who get stuck with the bill.