Krugman, Ezra: Wrong About Texas Health Care

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.

Comments (9)

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  1. Cynthia says:

    All very valid points. Thanks for sharing and providing even more insight to the one-sided argument.

  2. Nancy says:

    A good post. And a timely one. Thanks. This is good information.

  3. Jeff says:

    Good, useful information. That’s why I like this blog.

  4. Tom H. says:

    I’m familiar with Texas and I think this is accurate.

  5. Buster says:

    The states with the highest uninsured rates tend to be border states or ones that are the port of entry for immigrants. Many immigrants know they can return home for care that is far cheaper than care in the United States. Many have little desire to spend $10,000 on a policy they expect not to need. This notion that people should take out costly coverage even though you are in good health is not universal across the world.

  6. Paul H. says:

    Not knowing anything about a topic never seems to keep Krugman from commenting.

  7. Virginia says:

    No one’s going to comment on Krugram’s weather assertion?

    “Several factors underlie [Texas’] rapid population growth: …inward migration of Americans from other states, who are attracted to Texas by its warm weather and low cost of living…”

    Yes, Mr. Krugman, the plastic cup that melted into the center console of my car this weekend was indicative of a mild warm front typical of Texas right around this time of year.

  8. Simon says:

    So the large decline in population for New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts (etc) with their high unfunded entitlement liabilities, high taxes, and limited job growth are the shining beacon for success? I believe Charles Tiebout would disagree about Krugman’s analysis of population shifts. Granted Texas has its issues (as well as Tiebout’s argument), but as far as the economy and job goes people move to Texas because they have a change to find employment where it’s hard to find it in the North East.

  9. John R. Graham says:

    It also shows that people do not value health insurance as much as they claim to. Why would so many people be migrating to a state with high incidence of uninsurance if being uninsured was the worst thing in the world.