Krugman, Ezra: Wrong About Texas Health Care

August 17, 2011
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Texas has the highest percent of its population uninsured of any state in the nation. Why is that? According to Paul Krugman, this is because of the “state’s small government approach.” According to Sarah Kliff writing at Ezra Klein’s blog, one of the reasons was “insurance rates are largely unregulated.”

Texas has the highest percent of its population uninsured of any state in the nation. Why is that? According to Paul Krugman, this is because of the “state’s small government approach.” According to Sarah Kliff writing at Ezra Klein’s blog, one of the reasons was “insurance rates are largely unregulated.”

Get the picture? Small government. Unregulated. Hint. Hint…..this is Rick Perry’s political philosophy … Since there are limits to which these two journalists will stoop (in Krugman’s case, I know — it’s hard to believe), they don’t actually say it’s all Rick Perry’s fault. But should you conclude that, they’re not going to correct you.

Ah, but facts are such troubling things:

  • Texas uninsurance is largely explained by two things Rick Perry has no control over: poverty and ethnicity.
  • On the latter, Hispanics (perhaps for cultural reasons) are twice as likely to be  uninsured at just about every level of income.
  • As for regulation the evidence is overwhelming: excessive regulation causes the uninsurance rate to rise, not fall.
  • As for small government, Texas requires cities and counties to provide extensive indigent care outside of Medicaid! (I’m not aware of any other state that does this.)

About a decade ago, the state Dept. of HHS estimated that “free care” in Texas amounted to about $1,500 per uninsured person per year — or $6,000 for a family of four. And that was ten years ago.