Advancing a Free Society

The Health Care Bill: Progress or Retrogression?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Studies show that men and women place a high value on even small decreases in their probability of dying at different ages. Presumably, the same is true of increases in the quality of their lives. This is why, given the rise in incomes over time, and the revolution in the development of blockbuster drugs and the advances in medical technology, the share of national income spent on health care would have risen over time in the US, even if it has had the best health care delivery system. Indeed, the share of income that is spent on health has risen quite sharply over time in every economically developed country, regardless of the nature of their health system.

Clearly, however, the American health system does have many defects, which contributed mightily to the growth of the share of medical spending to 17% of American GDP. Yet when I was recently asked whether I prefer the present healthcare bill to no change in the health delivery system for a decade, I answered “no change”. Even though the American healthcare  system can use many reforms, regrettably the bill that passed the House and Senate is a messy compromise to attract reluctant Democrats that is short on needed reforms. Instead, the bill is filled with many complicated, and generally bad, new regulations, higher subsidies, and greater taxes.

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