I’ve been hearing the argument that health care is not a commodity for the past month or so. It’s another way to play on the emotions of the electorate, since it’s kind of obvious that health care is a commodity… but it does not feel right to say it.
Just because health care is not traded like pork bellies or sugar on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (a product) does not mean it is not a commodity. Health care is a service, and the service, quality and cost of health care is affected by the laws of supply and demand just like anything else.
Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air reminds us of this fact as he notes many liberals – including Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) – flat out want to destroy all private health care insurance since he does not think health care should be a commodity.
Ed notes the “key points come at 2:31, 4:44, 5:15, and 7:15, but the 5:15 is when the light dawns for Scarborough”.
Transcript from Morning Joe courtesy The Moderate Voice…
Scarborough: It sounds like you’re saying you think there is no need for us to have private insurance in health care.
Weiner: I’ve asked you three times. What is their value? What are they bringing to the deal?
Scarborough: Again… I’m astounded by your question. It sounds like you’re suggesting that there’s no need to have a country that’s run on free market principles.
Weiner: Time out. Let’s focus on one thing at a time. This isn’t a commodity, Joe. Health care isn’t a commodity.
Scarborough: You’re saying that health care is different than everything else.
Weiner: Health care is not a commodity.
Scarborough: But you are making the conservatives’ point. You are making the point of the people at the town hall meetings who say this is Barack Obama’s opportunity to get rid of private health care and turn it completely over to the government. I’m sitting here stunned, saying Oh My God, you’re making the point of the health care protesters.
Weiner: If Barack Obama doesn’t want to do it, I want to do it.
Any good or service with a cost is a commodity. Continuing from Morrissey…
What do insurance companies do for health care? Weiner asks this question repeatedly as if there is no answer, but it’s as obvious as the fact that goods and services are commodities. Insurance companies provide risk pools for consumers that allow them to indemnify themselves against catastrophic health-care costs. It’s that simple. By paying a few hundred dollars a month in premiums, customers can get access to a wide range of goods and services in health care when needed. Insurance companies or private-sector co-ops attempt to calculate the risks to set the premiums at a point where customers find the pricing acceptable, investors in the risk pool can get a profit from its creation and maintenance, and providers get adequate compensation for their goods and services. The more these insurers compete against each other, the better pricing consumers get and the more efficient they become at controlling costs.
Anyone who doesn’t understand that much about economics has no business creating policy.
One of the main problems over the past few decades is liberals (including some RINOs) trying to brainwash people into thinking health care is not a commodity. They do this through regulation.
As an example, walk into your eye doc’s office and ask them how much it would cost for cataract surgery. You’ll get the why-the-heck-would-you-want-to-know-that look from the receptionist.
Eventually, after watching a bunch of well-meaning health care providers whisper among themselves, they may give you a figure – not understanding why you would want to know in the first place – but they will strongly suggest you go to your health insurance company and ask them what the “negotiated” rate is.
Someone remind me to write a post on how the $10 co-pay destroyed our understanding of how health care should work in the first place.
Then, let them know you have a high-deductible health plan and you’ll be paying for the surgery out of your Health Savings Account (HSA). They will feel bad for you since you don’t have one of those $10 co-pays.
Don’t you know it only costs $10 for an office visit? </sarcasm>
Next, go to the insurance company and ask what the negotiated rate for cataract surgery is for the four best doctors in the area. You won’t get a number, and you won’t be able to easily get quality ratings on those doctors either.
I can call the Better Business Bureau and get the ratings of plumbers, but not eye docs. Wonderful.
The system now is not perfect, but I strongly believe that consumer-driven health care – programs like HSAs – were a step in the right direction, putting the consumer in charge of decsions and placing perception of value back into health care choices. (The $10 co-pay destroyed all perception of value when it comes to health care.)
I say “were a step in the right direction” since it looks like HSAs are a target of the current administration. That’s right, liberals don’t like HSAs simply because we get to keep the money year to year, it can be invested tax free, and it forces Americans with these plans to actually show some interest in how much our health care costs…. God forbid!