Health Policy Prescriptions
By Arnold Kling
People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury. It isn’t, of course.
He argues that because we lack universal health coverage, people stint on preventive care, and this outweighs the moral hazard of people consuming too much health care when it is paid for by third parties.
A panel of five Stanford health policy experts has divergent views. For example, Paul Wise writes,
the general consensus [is] that health care should be provided on the basis of shared, collective interest, like police, rather than on the basis of individual, natural entitlement.
Once upon a time, the Constitution defined what was a “shared, collective interest.” More recently, economists defined public goods as goods which involved substantial externalities. A vaccination program might be a public good. Dental care has far fewer externalities.
Nowadays, of course, people assert a “shared, collective interest” in just about everything.