Nobel laureate and columnist Paul Krugman says he is looking forward to health care as run by the Department of Motor Vehicles, based on his own swift and courteous experience with that agency. At the same time, he says, his own dealings with private health care have been a bureaucratic nightmare.
Krugman’s evidence was entirely anecdotal and he included no testimonies from others and no statistics. Incredibly enough, the Economist went on record that with the DMV “things have gotten a lot better over the past few decades” and it was time to retire the Johnny Carson-era reference to the DMV as a byword for “time-wasting red tape.” But that might still apply in California, the publication said, where wait times are back up to 42 minutes. Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters has defended the DMV, but only on its appointed tasks, not as a model for health care.
Registering motor vehicles and handing out drivers’ licenses are much simpler tasks than conducting quadruple bypass surgery or knee replacement. Apologists of government monopoly health care believe that if government employees perform the work, care will improved, costs will drop, and bureaucratic tangles will be reduced.
Nobel laureate Krugman fails to note that the government already saddles “private” health care with a multitude of regulations and mandates. If Mr. Krugman found a cheaper or more streamlined coverage in another state, current rules forbid him from buying it. And he gets no tax deduction for buying health insurance. Only employers get that, not workers, and Obamacare does not remedy these problems.
Critics of government monopoly healthcare, what some mistakenly call “socialized medicine,” used to use the inefficient United States Postal Service as a warning. Krugman tellingly avoids the USPS, currently in the red by nearly $16 billion, and opts for the DMV, a concession that Obamacare will be a bust.
Krugman also failed to cite Canada as an example of efficient government healthcare. Canadians are now being forced to wait almost four-and-a-half months, on average, to receive surgical care. Writer Victor-Lévy Beaulieu once recalled that during a hospital stay in Québec one has enough time to guérir seul, to get well all by yourself. Beaulieu is not an economist and has not won a Nobel Prize, but he knows first hand what DMV-style care looks like.