The health care “debate” is made most irritating by the obvious things ignored. As we have grown accustomed to hearing ad nauseam, health care represents 17% of our economy. I have no idea if that number is accurate. Perhaps one day I will look into it. Whatever the number, we know it is big. Yet health care consumers have no idea what anything related to health care actually costs. For all practical purposes it may as well be free. Consequently, we consume too much of it and will continue to do so unless some simple changes are made.
We pay an upfront cost for insurance (or are given a tax free
benefit from an employer or the government) and in exchange we get a
plastic card with an insurance company’s name on it. When we go to the
doctor, the hospital, or the pharmacy we simply hand them the card upon
entering. Whether we fill a prescription for fish oil or get brain
surgery we simply hand in the same card. Some administrator fills out
forms and that’s that. We don’t even have to sign a form in recognition
of the cost of the procedure. How is it remotely possible that such a
system can function efficiently? There is no other part of our economy
that operates this way. Milton Friedman has written about this topic. Thomas Sowell has written about this (Alice in Health Care) as has John Stossel. Even I have written about this What Next: “Universal Food Insurance”?.