Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 27 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/23/14

One of Ezra Klein's Last Wonkblog Posts Made an Unwonky Mistake About My Obamacare Op-Ed

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message Michael Moore
Become a Fan
  (83 fans)

(Image by kalw)   Details   DMCA

My New Year's Day op-ed in the New York Times seems to have kickstarted a discussion about how to make Obamacare better. I hope you can read it if you haven't already, and get involved.

But it also attracted criticism from, surprisingly, the otherwise very smart and very cool Ezra Klein, who created the Washington Post's Wonkblog. (He's now leaving to create something on his own.)

Ezra wanted everyone to hear about "What Liberals get wrong about healthcare":

"Michael Moore greeted the introduction of Obamacare with an admission many liberals will cheer. 'Obamacare is awful,' he wrote.

"Its awfulness, Moore said, stems from 'one fatal flaw: The Affordable Care Act is a pro-insurance-industry plan implemented by a president who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go.'

"Like Moore, I'd prefer a more nationalized health-care system. But his analysis relies on a common mistake that distorts both the benefits of single-payer systems and the deficiencies peculiar to Obamacare...the problem with the Affordable Care Act isn't the insurance industry. In fact, the main benefits of nationalized health care can be achieved in systems with hundreds, even thousands, of for-profit insurers"

"Most countries rely on many, many insurers...It's health-care providers -- not insurers -- who have too much power in the U.S. system [but politicians] routinely rail against for-profit insurers..."

I read that line -- "the problem isn't the insurance industry" -- and I wondered, is that true? Are there great universal healthcare programs in tons of other countries where insurance companies are -- as under Obamacare -- free to make a profit on basic health insurance? Have I been wrong about this for all these years (here's a piece I did on universal health care on NBC's TV Nation, some 20 years ago)?

Let's ask the Washington Post:

"...foreign health insurance plans exist only to pay people's medical bills, not to make a profit. The United States is the only developed country that lets insurance companies profit from basic health coverage."

That's by T.R. Reid, a longtime Post reporter who wrote a whole book about how other countries have created universal healthcare, called The Healing of America. In it he lists several "standard building blocks" they all use. They're so important that Reid writes them in all caps. For instance:


"Another basic building block in the health care systems of every wealthy country -- except the United States -- is the principle that financing health care must be a nonprofit endeavor."

Why does this matter? Because what Ezra's really worried about is how much doctors and hospitals charge Americans, which is part of what makes our healthcare system by far the most expensive on earth. What we need, he says, is for insurance companies to be more powerful so they can hold down costs.

But as T.R. Reid explains, you can't make that happen when the insurance companies are run for-profit:

"In the U.S., when Aetna or WellPoint declines to pay for a drug or a procedure, the money saved goes to enhance the insurer's profit, not to pay for another person's treatment. So people are less willing to tolerate cost controls."

And Ezra -- what about that other thing you said -- that other countries have "hundreds, even thousands" of companies providing insurance in other countries? It's true that in nations like Japan, Germany or Switzerland they have insurance providers -- except they're NOTHING like corporations as we think of them in the U.S. It's not just that they're not making any profit for shareholders, they're so heavily regulated that they're essentially a group of public utilities welded into one system. Here's what Reid says about them:

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Well Said 1   Supported 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Michael Moore Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Michael Francis Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American film director, author, and social commentator. He is widely known for his outspoken, critical views on globalization, large corporations, gun violence, the Iraq War, and the George W. Bush administration. (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

30 Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died ...a letter from Michael Moore

Michael Moore Talks About SCOTUS, Occupy, Weasel Democrats and Obama

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here? ...a proposal from Michael Moore

Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange

"We the People" to "King of the World": "YOU'RE FIRED!"

An Open Letter to President Obama "from Michael Moore

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend