July 15, 2024

Letters: Beyond Common Ground on Health Care Costs

Beyond Common Ground
On Health Care Costs

To the Editor:

In “Seriously, Some Consensus About Health Care” (Economic View, June 19) N. Gregory Mankiw contended that Democrats and Republicans might be wrong in agreeing that health care costs can be reined in, even as they disagree about how such control is achieved. He then asks, “if controlling the cost of health care fails, what is Plan B?”

I would suggest that Plan B should be to examine how other advanced democracies have managed to provide health care coverage to all, while spending less of their gross domestic product on health care than we do in the United States.

No one should say that controlling health costs may be futile when so many countries have already done so through various combinations of competitive forces and government regulatory action. And while the United States leaves millions of people uninsured, these countries provide coverage for all.

Craig Ramsay

Columbus, Ohio, June 19

The writer is a professor of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University.


To the Editor:

N. Gregory Mankiw provides a helpful perspective on the politics of health care reform, but does not include an important point about the way free-market competition works.

Perfect competition requires perfect information, which is not part of the health insurance market. Supporters of President Obama’s health care law don’t necessarily believe private competition is good in this arena; they may simply take it as a political given.

In the new law, choosing among private plans in a regulated exchange is an improvement over the current system, in which comparison is difficult for lack of information. The plan is an effort to make competition work.

Jennie Kaufman

Brooklyn, June 20

To the Editor:

In comparing the recent health care reform law to the Medicare proposal by Representative Paul D. Ryan, the column posed this question: “If choosing among competing private plans on a government-regulated exchange is a good idea for someone at age 50, why is it so horrific for someone who is 70?”

First, 50-year-olds who seek to buy health insurance are most likely near the peak of their earning power and thus more capable of paying in one way or another for their insurance — which might not be too expensive because of the relatively modest cost of insuring someone who is that age.

But people who are 70 are generally retired, living on stagnant or reduced income.  Their insurance would be far more expensive because of the higher use of services at their age.

The plan to treat retired Americans the same as 50-year-olds for health insurance purposes misses this crucial difference. Dene F. Karaus

Wayne, N.Y., June 19

Letters for Sunday Business may be sent to sunbiz@nytimes.com.

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