Very, very few of us are competent to doctor ourselves. Doctoring is one of those things we "hire done." But it isn't the only such thing. Your typical Americano has no business doing his or her own plumbing, or wiring. Car repair is a specialist job. Made your own clothing lately? Made any shoes? Written a web browser? Raised (and slaughtered and butchered) your own beef cattle?
For how many of these functions, which you count on skilled others to perform, do you have, or need, insurance?
The doctoring seems unique in this way. I believe the problem is supposed to be that many Americans can't afford to get medical attention when they need it, and the alleged debate over the solution is framed in terms of obtaining insurance (not doctoring) for those Americans. If a poor man goes naked to his government, crying out for help, he'll presumably be given clothing, or maybe money to go and buy clothing. No one thinks he needs garment insurance. If he's homeless, someone may invite him indoors to a warm place to sleep; it probably wouldn't occur to them that what he really needs is a shelter policy.
Yes, we're told, but medical care's different. It's really, really expensive. True, it is. We should think about why that is; and there are, I think, several reasons, which I'd like to consider in subsequent posts here. For now, though, let me suggest that "perverse incentives" to all of us, as consumers of medical services, abound. In my own case: I have a job, one benefit of which is pretty good medical insurance. That means I make a number of choices about whether to consume a given service or not, in which my out-of-pocket cost is not a factor; that is, my "coverage" costs me the same amount whether I use such-and-such service or not. The contingent or optional cost is, from my point of view, something that Someone Else pays.
Do you suppose that my arrangement, multiplied by the large number of people like me, might tend to increase the total money being spent on medical matters?
Relative to what?, one might ask.
More about this tomorrow, I hope.