Friday, March 07, 2008

Fires and Health

Personally, I think Megan McArdle poses some great questions on her Asymmetrical Information blog. Today she points out that it makes little sense to compare mandates on paying for fire department services with individual mandates for health insurance.

As usual, Megan's readers are up in arms, both the libertarian egg-heads and the self-anointed liberal economists. I'm amazed by the arguments people make in regards to health care, as no one would ever consider making the same arguments in other facets of life. One commenter complains that our current system of health care restrains our liberty because it restricts our ability to move from job to job- It is true that because of government policy, we've tied health care into our jobs, and this does make moving from job to job more of a financial liability- But health care is out there, it's just expensive. The high costs of a product or service is not a restriction of liberty, not really anyhow. Maybe at some point, government imposed costs would be a restriction of liberty, but given how much we dole out to the government in taxes, I find it hard to point figures at any one particular instance.

Another commenter complains about how complicated health policies are ... which is a perfectly good complaint, but that's the world we live in. I don't think people need give up their autonomy just because the world's gotten more complicated. And then there's the commenter who points out that unpaid health care bills actually raise the cost of health care for the rest of us. As I took the time to point out in the comments, that may well be the case, but that logic would apply to all unpaid bills, not just health care ones. If we're that worried about the effect people not paying their bills will have on the economy, why have a market economy in the first place?


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