Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reynolds On The Price of "Free" Health Care

Glenn Reynolds (aka "Instapundit") has an OpEd in the 10/9/2012 USA Today on the price of "free" health care.

Here's the opening of his piece, "Do you want your goat scruffy or shiny?":
According to a West African proverb, "a goat owned in common always starves." This pithy phrase captures a key truth of human behavior: People are a lot better about taking care of things that belong to them than they are about taking care of things that don't.That's a lesson that applies to more than goats...
Reynolds notes that it applies to "community bicycles".  And to collectivized health care:
You can also see this phenomenon in medicine. The dermatology office where my family goes has two sides. One does the work that's covered by insurance: Stuff that's mostly "free," in the sense that it's largely paid for by someone else.

The other side does the stuff that's paid for out of pocket and isn't covered by insurance. Guess which one is nicer? Guess which one makes it easier to get an appointment? And, most interestingly, guess which one has the newest, and fastest-advancing, technology? Thanks to ObamaCare, we're heading toward the world of "scruffy bike" medicine. Is that where you want to go?

On the one hand, the scruffy bikes are free, sort of. At least, you don't have to cough up any cash each time you use them. But you pay in other ways.
First, they're, well, scruffy. Second, they're not always available, meaning that you have to wait, or do without. Waiting is a kind of payment, too, since time is money. (Time is probably more important, actually, when you're waiting for a hip replacement, or chemotherapy, than when you're waiting for a bike).
The result is cronyism, inefficiency, and waste.

Fortunately, we're not stuck with this system.  But we'll have to decide in a few weeks.

(Read the full text of "Do you want your goat scruffy or shiny?")