Would You Give Up Your Health Insurance?
By Bryan Caplan
A question from lunch: If you could give up your health insurance in exchange for the cash required to pay for it, would you do so? Sure, the cash would be taxed. But if you buy the empirical evidence on the weak effect of medicine on health, doesn’t it seem like a good deal? To sweeten the hypothetical, let’s suppose you can pay the same prices that an insurance company would have pre-negotiated on your behalf.
For me, the strongest reason to reject the deal is simply avoiding family conflict. In our society, living without health insurance is a mark of irresponsibility and short-sightedness. Convincing your spouse that you’re a clever contrarian despite conventional wisdom is rarely easy – and even minor setbacks are likely to be treated as overwhelming evidence against your brave experiment.
In all honesty, then, given a choice between the status quo and zero insurance, I personally would probably stick with the status quo. Nevertheless, I’d be happy to give up most of my coverage for an actuarially fair rebate. Settling for catastrophic coverage when you can afford much better might seem a little weird. But if you’ve got reasonable income it’s hard to paint this choice as irresponsible.
Question for readers who (a) have health insurance and (b) agree that medicine is greatly overrated: Are you willing to bite the bullet of living uninsured in exchange for the annual cost of the policy? If not, why not?