Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Narcissus Society

The New York Times OpEd "The Narcissus Society" (February 22nd, 2010), though beautifully written, claims that
Pooling the risk among everybody is the most efficient way to forge a healthier society.
This is true, however it is also true that the government is extraordinarily inefficient, and that the taxes necessary to provide a free lunch for some create a deadweight loss. The efficiency of the public healthcare is uncertain.

The article also makes the point that
When it comes to health it makes sense to involve government, which is accountable to the people, rather than corporations, which are accountable to shareholders.
Corrections would argue that private health insurers are in fact motivated by profit (maybe not enough--a case for deregulation). They make money by insuring well! If the health care companies provide a quality good for a low price then they will be able to maintain a high demand. If they create a poor product, consumers will find out and demand will fall, eventually causing their prices to fall below their cost. Competition will cause the most efficient health companies to stay in the market and the least efficient ones to leave the market.

Finally, the article claims that
Government, through Medicare and Medicaid, is already administering almost half of American health care and doing so with less waste than the private sector.
Likely, the article concocted their notion of "waste" outside of the realm of economics--the deadweight loss from the taxation needed to provide Medicaid may well outweigh any administrative gains the article reports.

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