House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) departs a news conference held after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill. Photo: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst

Asia Unhedged is less worried about the Trump health care problem than the mainstream press. Yes, it was embarrassing, but Trump handled it the right way: He gave the Republican fiscal conservatives a take-it-or-leave-it offer and walked away from the deal when it got dicey.

The sad fact is that nothing can be done in the short run to make health care better, at least not after Obama established a new entitlement. Entitlements are very hard to take back. The whole Western world suffers from the same problem: there are too many old people (the biggest consumers of health services) and too few young people to pay into public or private insurance systems. Someone has to suffer.

In Britain, the National Health Service won’t spend large amounts of money to prolong the life of elderly patients (and the Dutch encourage euthanasia). In Germany, doctors earn much less than in the US. And in the US, taxpayers are gouged to provide mediocre care to whomever doesn’t have private insurance or Medicare for the over-65’s. Those with privileges in the US treat healthcare as a free good; those without suffer high payments, long queues, and (frequently) mediocre care.

There are ways to use technology to reduce costs, but they will take a long while to have an impact. In the short-term any health care plan will make a lot of people miserable. Trump made the mistake of letting Speaker Ryan attack health care before tax reform–which is much easier to do. So Friday’s punt on the health care bill is less important than Trump’s detractors make it out to be.