Anonymous: You said that medical innovation will be wiped out if we have a type of national health care, because European drug companies get 80% of their revenue from Americans. Where did you get this statistic?
Megan McArdle: It wasn't a statistic--it was a hypothetical.
However, whenever I have been able to find pharma financial statements that break down their profits by region, the lion's share always comes from the US.
A hypothetical is not a statistic. A statistic is a fact that can be verified, not a guess, and McArdle just admitted she made a guess. That guess was the entire basis for her argument against health care reform.
I don't think Matt understands what worries me about national health care, or else he doesn't actually understand how the system in the Netherlands works underneath his interaction with an insurance company. It isn't the cost. It isn't the taxes. It isn't the redistribution. It isn't even the mandate, which is borderline plausible to me in the way that mandatory auto insurance is, and forced retirement savings might be: the moral hazard is huge, because your neighbors won't let you die.
My objection is primarily, as I've said numerous times, that the government will destroy innovation. It will do this by deciding what constitutes an acceptable standard of care, and refusing to fund treatment above that. It will also start controlling prices.
McArdle made up a number based on a balance sheet she might or might not have seen at some time. Like so much of her evidence, it is part guess and part wishful thinking. As a pundit McArdle is inept. As a journalist she is hopelessly out of her league, a simple fact that doesn't seem to bother The Atlantic at all.