In response to an op-ed by the Massachusetts governor in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, I write,

These are the “near-poor,” who are portrayed by the Governor as an oppressed class who badly needs support from the state.

“We needed far less than the $1 billion for the subsidies. One reason is that this population is healthier than we had imagined. Instead of single parents, most were young single males, educated and in good health.”

Oddly enough, this oppressed class does not need much health care. A cheap date, so to speak.

The governor’s claim that the cost of covering the uninsured will be low because they are “young, single males, educated and in good health” raises a question about how much we should be worried about the uninsured in the first place.

What if the health insurance crisis is phony to begin with? In that case, then the Massachusetts plan is actually a good fit. A phony solution for a phony crisis.

When I first started studying the literature for my book on health care, I thought that the health insurance crisis was phony. I thought that we might find that the extravagant use of health care in our society has demonstrable benefits for our citizens.

The more that I learned, the less confident I became that the U.S. spends its health care dollars cost-effectively. Although I do not think that the international longevity statistics that are frequently cited to indict the U.S. health care system are the “smoking gun” that they portrayed to be by single-payer advocates, there is other evidence that health care procedures are undertaken with very poor benefit-cost ratios.

If there is a crisis in American health care, it is the widespread use of cost-ineffective procedures. And if that is the problem, there is nothing in the Massachusetts health plan that speaks to the solution.