by Paul Krugman
Being without health insurance is no big deal. Just ask President Bush. “I mean, people have access to health care in America,” he said last week. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”
This is what you might call callousness with consequences. The White House has announced that Mr. Bush will veto a bipartisan plan that would extend health insurance, and with it such essentials as regular checkups and preventive medical care, to an estimated 4.1 million currently uninsured children. After all, it’s not as if those kids really need insurance — they can just go to emergency rooms, right?
O.K., it’s not news that Mr. Bush has no empathy for people less fortunate than himself. But his willful ignorance here is part of a larger picture: by and large, opponents of universal health care paint a glowing portrait of the American system that bears as little resemblance to reality as the scare stories they tell about health care in France, Britain, and Canada.
The claim that the uninsured can get all the care they need in emergency rooms is just the beginning. Beyond that is the myth that Americans who are lucky enough to have insurance never face long waits for medical care.