I want to address a paragraph in today's Paul Krugman NYT column. It has to do with the Bush administration's views on health care in the 2004 Economic Report of the President. Krugman writes:
The report even takes a Panglossian view of uninsured Americans - one that is completely at odds with the grim statistics I cited above - suggesting that "many of them may remain uninsured as a matter of choice," perhaps because "they are young and healthy and do not see the need for insurance."
BTW Panglossian mean blindly or naively optimistic, from Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide. I agree with this assessment but I want to get into why these views prevail. Most people in their mid twenties to mid thirties in this country get up with some form of health care. If you were poor, you might have had Medicaid. If you grew up in the middle class, your parents probably had jobs that provided health care. Health care was pretty common in the last generation's job compensation packages.
While ages limits vary, by 25 you're usually off your parents health care and on your own. By this age, unless you are a brilliant college dropout tech geek or a drug addict, you are probably still in the same economic class as your parents. I could go on and on about class stagnation but I digress. So your options are to get a job that offers health care, pay for it yourself, or go without. With jobs offering health care constantly declining, some people pay, some go without, and it doesn't even enter into some people's minds that they should have it.
Under the current system, this will always be the way it is no matter how much you tweak the system. Its a shame that conservatives are too back-asswards to adopt a cheaper, more efficient European style universal health care, because we should be protecting all Americans from the financial ruin of a catastrophic health event.