NOTE: I am going back and trying to fix all current articles, to (1) add labels on the topic of each essay, (2) fix all links so they point to copies of essays on this blog, or, for external articles, point to working copies or archive.org if possible and (3) copying to this blog any cited essays which are not presently on the blog. In the future I intend to go back and copy over all the remaining articles from Random Notes (I already did this for the much smaller blogs "Examining the War on Drugs" and "Nation of Whiners") to this blog, but for now I am limiting myself to essays cited in this blog. Hopefully I shall be able to do this in a week or so, and all current essays will have working links and labels before mid February. (This specific essay was cited in "Who Will Decide".)
My wife mentioned an article in the daily paper where it was mentioned that historically, when dialysis was first developed that panels decided who would and would not receive dialysis. I suppose the point being that we should not balk at the government deciding what care we can get, after all, doctors did it before.
My counter argument is simple. There is a limit on how much care can be provided due primarily to a limited number of resources. As the limit on resources is due to the amount of money we are willing to invest, why not make services available to those who will pay for them? At first the rich, and those who have charity funds, will get better services, but their funds will cause society to commit more resources (mostly to earn more profits) and costs will come down. As with cars, VCRs and computers, the cost of medical miracles will get cheaper and cheaper. We did not need government panels to decide who would get a car, a personal computer or a DVD player, and now almost everyone can afford any of the above.
Even areas in which we have hard limits, a free market could help. Such as organ transplants. I discussed the benefits of free market in organs in "Organ Donation" and "Envy Kills", so I won't go into that again, but I would point out that a free market would not only make more organs available, but if enough money is committed, likely new technologies will develop, whether allowing one liver to go to multiple donors, or artificial organs to replace organic organs.
I know it is unthinkable to some to "put a price on health", but by allowing the market to work, we get the best care, get a realistic assessment of the value people put on various services, get the best services and the best research funding. So, yes, it means the rich get better care than the poor, but everyone gets better care overall.
And that is the choice. Do you prefer a system where everyone gets better care, but the rich can afford better care, or a system where everyone gets worse care, but you all get the same? Sadly, many envious individuals push for the latter. Though they hide their envy with talk of "fairness".
I covered similar ground, how government intervention prevents prices from declining, in "Government Efficiency", "High Cost of Medical Care" and "Clarification of My Argument for a Free Market in Medicine".
Actually, there is another argument many miss. Someone will always decide who gets access to limited resources. The question is whether the government decides or you bid for it. The one difference is if the government decides, it will always be scarce. If we bid for the resource, then the funds will be used to make more resources available. So, allowing the rich to buy more care also makes even more available in the future.
For those confused by the title, I originally intended to do nothing but plug my article on envy, but as I ended up writing more, I suppose it doesn't make sense any longer.
Originally posted in Random Notes on 2009/08/23.