Lately, politicians have been promising more health insurance coverage for everyone. That sounds terrific, and I wish it were possible, but let’s stop and think about this promise for a second.
In an ABC News special, John Stossel does just that. He points out that “health insurance means someone else pays your bills, and when that happens…patients don’t care what things cost. And if someone else is paying for it, who cares how much it costs?”
And that’s the problem. Stossel explains this economic concept using hypothetical “grocery insurance” as an example.
What would happen if a third-party paid for your groceries? John Mackey of Whole Foods explains, “[Consumers would] buy a lot more. Instead of buying a bottle of wine for $7.99 they’d buy a bottle of wine for 300 dollars.”
Does this economic theoretical transfer into real life? It does, and one can look to medical services not covered by insurance as proof.
Insurance doesn’t pay for Lasik, and guess what – Lasik keeps getting cheaper! The price of Lasik has gone down thirty percent because without insurance, people shop around to get the best deal. One doctor says of the procedure, “I can’t get away with not telling the patients how much exactly it’s going to cost. No one would put up with it.”
Insurance was designed to cover major health emergencies, but now it covers many things. Things like in-vitro fertilization in some states and breast reconstruction in others. Some states even require insurance companies to cover marriage therapists and smoking cessation programs. That’s right: single, non-smoker males are required to pay for these things in some states.
Expanding health insurance won’t solve our nation’s health care system shortcomings as some policymakers suggest. It will only exacerbate the problems we have now.
– Elizabeth Young