Aug 25 2009


by at 6:51 pm

The Times didn’t run my response to Krugman’s column on health care, so here it is:

As a recent American expatriate, living in Switzerland this past year
has been my personal dry run with health care reform. From a routine
checkup to a weekend ER visit and hospital stay for a diagnostic
dilemma, my care has been quick and comprehensive, with specialists on
hand when needed, and I have never worried about whether the private
health insurance all residents are required to purchase will cover me.
There was no such thing as a co-pay to deter me from an elective
consultation about lactose intolerance—essential in a land with many
more varieties of cheese than the holey Emmental. Health insurance is
not cheap, so I would prefer the possibility of a public insurance
option, but as Krugman correctly points out, the mix of subsidies and
regulation means coverage is universal. Krugman should check one
fact: although lederhosen may have originated in the Alps, they were
never common in Switzerland.

Krugman did, however, hear from a number of people on his confusion about properly stereotyping the Swiss, ending his recent column with:

In my column last Monday, I made a joke about the Swiss that fell flat with some readers. Also, the Swiss don’t wear lederhosen.

He also had this on his blog:

The Swiss: Correspondents assure me that the Swiss don’t wear lederhosen. OK, they’re yodeling holey-cheese eaters. Actually, I’ve been to Switzerland enough to know that the national dish isn’t actually holey cheese — it’s spaghetti carbonara.

Spaghetti carbonara?

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “To:”

  1. Jackieon 25 Aug 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Hmm, is that spaghetti carbonara thing a Krugman joke? Seems like a joke, but I’m not sure I get it…

  2. Jasonon 28 Aug 2009 at 1:03 am

    For an economist, he’s not a bad comedian. And for a comedian, not a bad economist.

  3. Kathyon 30 Aug 2009 at 9:33 am


    Good for you on writing to the Times and thanks for sharing the letter. US expats have both a very particular stake in the reform (the possibility that they will be unable to be fully insured upon return) and personal experience of the benefits of universal coverage. You can see where your representatives stand on the public option at

  4. Sethon 31 Aug 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Kathy. Any expats or former expats reading this have information to share on getting coverage upon returning to the US? Another thing to worry about…

  5. Kathyon 31 Aug 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Seth,

    Democrats Abroad is hosting a showing of TR Reid’s documentary “Sick Around the World” at the AWZ Clubhouse on September 9 at 7 PM with a health care discussion to follow.

    Schontalstrasse 8, Zurich
    More info at

    Question? Contact Jennifer Giroux at

  6. SwissWatching » Roundup of Swiss Newson 01 Oct 2009 at 8:30 pm

    […] should probably have been receiving subsidies last year for my Swiss health care, which has no public option but is quite good? See NYTimes […]

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