The Electric Commentary

Friday, July 02, 2004

Low cost health care

I have maintained for some time that high health care costs are created by insurance. That's right, not greedy drug companies (all companies are greedy, not all have high prices, ergo, greed is not the answer), or doctors, or anything else. It's insurance. Insurance creates a tragedy of the commons situation in which you have a pool of money (the commons) and various drugs and procedures (the sheep). It used to be that there were only a few sheep, but over the last decade, the number of sheep have been steadily increasing. We now have heart scans, cholesterol pills, LASIK, Viagra, etc. Moreover, the shepherds (that's you) have been putting pressure on the commons by insisting that your new sheep get to graze there as well. Not all of these are present (LASIK for instance) but often they are. (Some plans do cover Viagra. Just think, you may have helped pay for one of Bob Dole's erections. But I digress.)

It is in everyone's individual best interest to take as much from the commons as possible, to get maximum value, and so no one else's sheep gets the grass that you want. But this puts an enormous strain on the commons. Either some sheep must die, or the commons must get bigger. Right now, it's getting bigger. Much bigger. This is not the way to handle it, as sheep tend to expand to fill any size commons that you can come up with. The answer is always the same: Sell off the commons.

Now comes a new form of health care that does just that. Consumer-driven health plans are all the rage. And not just because they save you and your insurance company money. They may also make you healthier:

In effect, the company gave employees the money to become consumers of health care, not just passive recipients. Prevention tests are free; doctor's visits are $20 to encourage people to get in early and often.

By making preventative medicine cheap or free, these plans reduce the risk of a customer incurring a serious injury later. And we all want to avoid serious injury. Deductibles and co-pays are higher, but customers are less likely to ever have to pay them. In essence, these policies will tax people who fail to take care of themselves for the benefit of those who do. It is progressive and efficient.

Who would have ever thought that the solution was to stop other people from paying for you?

(Thanks to Danny for the tip).

1 Comments:

  • "so no one else's sheep gets the grass that you want"
    This is an entirely different health-care issue in California.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 3:51 PM  

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