Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Thomas Sowell on Healthcare Reform

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For those of you who don’t know Sowell, you should.  He is an African American economist and social commentator.  His path started with Marxism, then the USMC, then a GED, then Howard University, transferred to Harvard University (graduated magna cum laude: bachelors in economics), then to Columbia University (masters in economics), and finally University of Chicago (d.phil in economics).  I pesonally find his writing lucid and prescient.  The following quote comes from a piece Sowell wrote for TownHall.

Back when the “single payer” was the patient, people were more selective in what they spent their own money on. You went to a doctor when you had a broken leg but not necessarily every time you had the sniffles or a skin rash. But, when someone else is paying, that is when medical care gets over-used — and bureaucratic rationing is then imposed, to replace self-rationing.

Money is just one of the costs of people seeking more medical care than they would if they were paying for it with their own money. Both waiting lines and waiting lists grow longer when people with sniffles and minor skin rashes take up the time of doctors, while people with cancer are waiting.

In country after country, the original estimates of government medical care costs almost always turn out to be gross under-estimates of what it ultimately turns out to cost.

Even when the estimates are done honestly, they are based on how much medical care people use when they are paying for it themselves. But having someone else pay for medical care virtually guarantees that a lot more of it will be used.

Nothing would lower costs more than having each patient pay those costs. And nothing is less likely to happen.


Written by Michael Graham

March 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm

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