Among the finest articles ever written by my formidable colleague and co-blogger Russ Roberts is this essay, originally appearing ten years ago in the Wall Street Journal, on the problems that arise when decisions to consume are separated from decisions to pay. If you’ll pay a substantial share of the cost of whatever it is I choose to consume, I’ll choose to consume more than I would if I were responsible for paying my full consumption bill. In short, if you’re footing most or all of my consumption bill, I’ll consume irresponsibly.
The point seems to me to be incontestably correct.
And yet, many Canadians continue to fancy themselves "lucky" to be saddled with such a system for providing their health care. Read the words of the Canadian lawyer quoted in this report. Go figure.
How on earth can a system that invites consumers to treat a scarce good as if it were free possibly work? Isn’t it inevitable – isn’t it utterly unavoidable – that any such system will suffer dysfunctions and troubles that make consumers worse off rather than better off? The story linked to above details some of the predicable maladies now infecting Canada’s insanely stupid health-care system.
Thanks to Brian Summers for alerting me to this report on the state of health-care provision in Canada.