Sowell on Health Care
By Arnold Kling
Thomas Sowell has an essay in three parts on the issue of universal health care coverage. In part one, he challenges politicians who continue to treat profits as evil, in spite of the superior performance of capitalism relative to socialism over the last half century.
With profits eliminated, in theory there should have been lower prices for the consumers, who would now be able to afford a higher standard of living. In reality, countries that went the socialist route found themselves falling farther behind countries that allowed the hated profit system to continue to exist.
In part two, he argues in favor of limiting health insurance to catastrophic coverage. He points out that “We have automobile insurance for the same reason — but our automobile insurance does not cover gasoline or oil changes.” The essay opens provocatively:
Whenever I hear about how many Americans do not have health insurance, my usual response is to wish that I were one of them…I would rather pay doctors and pharmacies directly, without sending the money through bureaucratic channels in the government and the insurance companies
In part three, Sowell asks whether health care coverage properly belongs within the sphere of government intervention.
What about the poor when it comes to health care? If this were the real issue, then money could be provided to take care of the poor. But here, as elsewhere, the poor are being used as excuses to fasten a whole system of controls on all of us. The left uses the poor as political human shields.
For Discussion. Suppose that car insurance did cover oil and gasoline. What would happen to the demand curve for gasoline? What would happen to the cost and affordability of car insurance?