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Mass Misdiagnosis


I’ve followed some discussions which propose that health care in the US is costly because we have the money to pay for it. There are only so many yachts one can water-ski behind, and preferences shift from collecting goodies to prolonging life and the ability to enjoy it. It’s parallel to the idea that people become concerned about the environment only after they have worked themselves away from the edge of starvation.

I like where the thinking leads, as it turns the problem on its head. High costs are not a symptom of dysfunction, but a sign of prosperity. There certainly are inefficiencies to root out, and moral hazards to avoid, but we start not as victims, but beneficiaries.

It also meshes well with another overlooked—or obfuscated—detail. The underlying good we are considering is not insurance or care. Our goal is health. Health is the benefit. Medical care and insurance are features that help us toward that benefit.

This makes the popular politics seem ludicrous. The government can’t make anyone healthy. What is labeled “health insurance” is being sold as health ensurance. We are asked to trust the Mommy State to heal all our boo-boos. Since every lifestyle—and life itself—entails risk, the government can’t possibly provide enough bandages. It’s a prescription for failure.