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Food Insurance


From the comments in a Vox Popoli thread about health care:

If you can't get insurance because of a pre-existing condition, you don't really want insurance. You want someone else to pay your bills. Insurance is about sharing risk of the unknown. A pre-existing condition is known with certainty.

People with asthma or diabetes, for example, need medicine to maintain a quality of life similar to those without such afflictions. Inhalers and insulin are more ongoing necessities—like food—than one-time catastophes like a kidney transplant.

Helping someone pay for life’s necessities is charity—or welfare—not insurance. It may not feel fair that some people have to buy inhalers. But in economics there is no “fair”.

Any attempt to enforce fairness in defiance of economics must lead to waste. Burdens are shifted onto the politically weak. The process of shifting consumes resources that do not make anyone better off.

Masking pleas for welfare as medical care will not produce fairness. Confusing an insurance premium with a transfer payment may help the recipient feel less guilty, “I’m not a welfare-sucking layabout, I just need insulin.” Such a psychological justification is economic nonsense.

Charitable individuals may decide to offer medicine just like they offer food and shelter. A socialist society may decide that stealing to provide medicine is within the law. These can be debated on their own merits, but neither is properly called insurance.