The N.Y. Times Magazine has a nice piece on rationing health care, but nothing too new if you’ve been a loyal reader of the Healthcare Economist. Below is an excerpt.
“Health care is a scarce resource, and all scarce resources are rationed in one way or another. In the United States, most health care is privately financed, and so most rationing is by price: you get what you, or your employer, can afford to insure you for. But our current system of employer-financed health insurance exists only because the federal government encouraged it by making the premiums tax deductible. That is, in effect, a more than $200 billion government subsidy for health care. In the public sector, primarily Medicare, Medicaid and hospital emergency rooms, health care is rationed by long waits, high patient copayment requirements, low payments to doctors that discourage some from serving public patients and limits on payments to hospitals.”
As I’ve said many times before, health care is a scarce good an must be rationed. Unlike most goods, healthy people generally do not demand zero medical care, so some people are under the assumption that medical care is only for the sick and thus should not be rationed. However, since medical care is costly, it must be rationed, either by price, by wait lists, or by other means.
The article also mentions Richard Kronick, a UCSD professor and member of my dissertation committee, and his research suggests that “there is little evidence to suggest that extending health insurance to all Americans would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States.”