Wednesday, November 23, 2005

health care != groceries

Those pesky free-marketeers:

This is an amazingly fatuous and disingenous argument. It should be obvious that groceries and health care are not the same. To argue that they are the same is pure sophism.

I think the simplest rebuttal shows up in the comments on that post: People enjoy food; they do not enjoy going to the doctor. Therefore, if you can show that people will overconsume food given the opportunity, it does not follow that they will overconsume healthcare given the opportunity.

Another reason why groceries are not the same as health care: It is possible to eat a very healthful diet while being quite frugal. That degree of choice is not always present in health care, as your expenditures are driven by your state of health, which is not something you have total control of. That is, if you get cancer, you have to pay to for cancer treatment, or else die. Not much of a choice. Now, you can argue that a free-market health care system will incentivize people to maintain their health to the best of their abilities, but that is:

a) Irrelevant, because the topic of this post is whether health care and groceries are the same.
b) Wrong and stupid, because if one's own health isn't enough of an incentive to maintain one's own health, then why is money going to be a good enough incentive? Besides which, (though I have no statistics handy to back this up) I suspect that poorer people have both poorer health on average and are also likelier to go bankrupt from health care bills - that is, they have the most fiscal incentive to preserve their health, and seem to be the worst at doing so. (I can think of all sorts of reasons why this might be so, but that's off-topic).


At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.


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