To echo what Krugman says here, I recently had to get a new Social Security card. This led to an absolutely harrowing experience where I filled in a form online, went to the local federal building, waited for about 90 seconds, handed the form to a friendly bureaucrat, left, and received my new card in a week This allowed me to fill out a single form and get my driver’s license renewed at the DMV in about 15 minutes. It was immensely painful being strangled by all that red tape.
Conversely, my wife has a painful dental issue, which wouldn’t normally be a big deal since she’s been continuously employed as jobs that provide dental insurance. Alas, she switched jobs last week, which means that there’s about a 3-week period in which she lacks insurance although she didn’t take a day off and her insurance comes from the same company. So either we’d have to pay for COBRA, which would be as or more expensive than just getting treatment out of pocket (which we can’t really afford), or just suffering for a couple weeks. The glories of private, employer-based insurance!
And the thing is that we’re very privileged to have dental insurance; what for us was bad lack meeting a completely irrational insurance system is for many Americans always true, and dental issues are in fact serious health issues. In other words, when revolting plutocrat Mitt Romney sneers about how absurd it would be for basic dental care to be included in universal insurance packages, he can cram it with walnuts.