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Healthcare is not a Normal Good

Freakonomics » New Freakonomics Podcast: Does College Still Matter? And Other FREAK-y Questions Answered.

[Healthcare] is virtually the only part of the economy where I can go out and get any service I want—cancer treatment, open heart surgery, have a wart removed, whatever it is—and I pay $3 for it or $5 for it or nothing, even if it costs $50,000 or $100,000.  I mean, imagine if you had the same situation with automobiles.  Where I could show up at the car dealership and I could say, ‘I want the Mercedes for free.’  Well, people say, ‘You can’t have the Mercedes for free.  You have to pay $50,000 for it.’  You say, ‘Why not, I have an inalienable right to free healthcare.  Right?  Why don’t I have an inalienable right to a free Mercedes?’

I love Levitt and Dubner, but here they lose their way.  They miss an important moral dimension to the argument over healthcare.  The best response was in the comments from “Miichael[sic?]”

To extend your Mercedes analogy, what usually happens is that you are told by your personal Car Expert that you need a Mercedes or you will die. You can’t afford one, and your Car Insurer says they won’t pay for one. So you walk. And you die.

Entitlement Hypocrisy

Entitlement Hypocrisy:

“Apparently, though, Dr. Harris has never needed to purchase insurance, at least until now. He wasn’t aware that COBRA allows him to purchase insurance for himself and his family so that they won’t be without insurance until the new policy kicks in. Because of that, he apparently went ballistic when he found out that his new government subsidized health insurance would not kick in until February 1st. He, like all of us, does not want his family to go without health care insurance coverage. I’m guessing he is intimately aware of what surgery and anesthesiology services cost to people who don’t have insurance — or how difficult it is for people without insurance to get care if they have an accident, injury, or illness while they are uninsured.”

(Via God’s Politics Blog.)

Like I said in the past, you get the government you deserve.  If you want better government, vote for better people.  Harris is just one more example of why I don’t trust GOP rhetoric or ideology.  It’s just a cover for selfishness in its many forms based on ignorance.