Greg Mankiw provided us with these two views of left-of-center economists, neither of whom believes soaking the rich is the way to improve healthcare. Wahooligan asked in a post yesterday for this blog to cover the issue of healthcare more meaningfully, and so in an effort to do so, I'll be looking for more information to distribute.
Simply put, soaking the rich to pay for everyone else's healthcare does NOTHING but reinforce the notion that healthcare has no costs (except of course, to those whose taxes are raised). Soaking the rich does nothing to impact THE DEMAND side of healthcare, the side in which defensive medicine and a detachment from the true cost of procedures to the consumer conspire to drive up healthcare costs beyond the rate of inflation.
So if we did raise taxes on the rich to finance universal healthcare, it might ensure more of the uninsured (but not all of them) , but it would do nothing at all to help the lot of everyone else who believes that there is a problem with our healthcare system.
One thing I'd like to put out there for public discussion...I was talking with a friend recently who was talking about the costs of healthcare to him, his wife and three children. I asked him how much it cost him to cover his family, and the answer was in the neighborhood of $800 a month. This was--to him--excessive. So I did a little math in my head and asked him straight up..."dude, you're bitching about paying $2000 a year per person for 1) the piece of mind of knowing that your family won't be financially crippled in the event of a catastrophic health condition and 2) for truly world class healthcare along the way?" This fellow was pulling down somewhere are $120K a year, so what this boiled down to was about a tenth of his annual take home. This is to much to take? Other people should be taxed at a higher rate so that you don't have to put out a tenth of your income for healthcare? And let's not forget--because he's "insured", when his family members do go into the system for some reason, they are very likely to be ridiculously over treated and overtested...something for which he will suffer very little additional financial penalty.
What value did he place on that piece of mind? Clearly not $9600 aggregate dollars....but you see, that's the trouble with insurance. It's an expensive nuisance....until you really need it.