During the panel discussion on This Week, George Will claims that Paul Krugman's recent column Reform And Premiums, Explained proves Lamar Alexander's
February 28, 2010

During the panel discussion on This Week, George Will claims that Paul Krugman's recent column Reform And Premiums, Explained proves Lamar Alexander's point that insurance premiums will go up that he made during the Health Care Summit. Krugman attempts to explain to him that it's not quite that simple.

If you live in opposite land like Noel Sheppard at Brent Bozell's right wing rag Newsbusters, you shorten the transcript so it doesn't include all of Krugman's response and tell everyone how terribly smart George Will is.

WILL: Now -- second, now, Paul says that, in fact, the Republicans have no ideas. They do, cross-selling across state lines, tort reforms, all those. Just a second, Paul.

Then you say they're telling whoppers. That was your view about Lamar Alexander when he said, for millions of Americans, premiums will go up. You said in the next sentence in your column, I guess you could say he wasn't technically lying, because the Congressional Budget Office says that's true.

KRUGMAN: No, it's not what it says.


KRUGMAN: Can I explain? This is...


WILL: Wait. Let me -- let me set the predicate here, because you then go on and say the Senate does say the average premiums would go up, but people would be getting better premiums.

KRUGMAN: Look, let me explain what happens, because you actually have to read the CBO report. And what the CBO report tells you -- in fairly elliptical language -- is that what it will do, what the bill will do is bring a lot of people who are uninsured, who are currently young and therefore relatively low cost, into the risk pool, which will actually bring premiums down a little bit.

It will also have, however, let -- lead a lot of people to get better insurance. It will lead a lot of people who are currently underinsured, who have insurance policies that are paper thin and don't actually protect you in a crisis, will actually get those people up to having full coverage. That makes the average payments go up, but it does not mean that people who currently have good coverage under their policies will pay more for their -- for their insurance. In fact, they'll end up paying a little bit less.

WILL: One question. If the government came to you and said, "Professor Krugman, you have a car. We're going to compel you to buy a more expensive car," but it's not really more expensive, because it's a better car, wouldn't you tell them to get off your land?

KRUGMAN: It's not -- Catherine Rampell did a very good piece in the Times blogs recently which said that the main obstacle to the people who are uninsured is not that they are choosing not to be insured. It is income.

It is, in fact, young people who are not buying insurance because they're not being able to afford it, will be brought in through the subsidies. And that will end up being better even for the people who are currently insured.

Transcript via ABC News.

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