The invisible program: Matthew Yglesias leads us to a commenter at Marginal Revolution who looks at life expectancy and concludes that “semi-socialized medicine” is good for the young but bad for the old. Tyler Cowen made the same argument in the Times a while back:
On average, European systems are relatively good for the young, who are generally healthy and need treatment for obvious accidents and emergencies, with transparent remedies. European systems are less effective for the elderly, the primary demanders of discretionary medical benefits.
As Yglesias points out, such arguments weirdly miss the fact that older Americans are covered by Medicare. If you say that American health care works well for the elderly, then the part of our system you’re praising is the “socialized” part.
This is part of a broader phenomenon. Everyone’s favorite story about the evils of socialized medicine is the fact that Canadians wait longer for hip replacements. But who pays for hip replacements in the United States? Medicare, in most cases. So we make fun of people who want to keep the government’s hands off Medicare. But Medicare blindness isn’t just a problem for the rubes.
There are times when I wonder if the right thing to do on health care reform is simply to raise the Medicare tax rate and drop the Medicare eligibility age to 50...