Do-do-DO-do, do-do-DO-do, do-do-DO-do….

by Don Boudreaux on January 23, 2012

in Health, Prices, Reality Is Not Optional

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

I feel as though I’m twirling in the Twilight Zone when I read Karen Davenport, debating Michael Cannon, praise Obamacare for “requiring insurers to price premiums without regard to health status” – and then to insist that this regulation, combined with Uncle Sam’s mandate that everyone purchase such insurance, will increase the availability of health insurance (“Should Everyone Be Required to Have Health Insurance?” Jan. 23).

Does Prof. Davenport advocate this model also for other businesses – say, restaurants?  Does she think that restaurant customers would be better served if government required restaurants to price meals without regard to ‘hunger status,’ so that the bill paid by a diner who orders three lobsters, two filets, and a bottle of ’61 Chateau Latour be the same as the bill paid by a diner who orders only a single cup of soup?  Does she think that whatever problems might arise from such a regulation will be solved if government also forces every American to buy a minimum number of restaurant meals?  After all, food – even more so than health-care – is necessary for life.

If Prof. Davenport doesn’t advocate this regulatory model for restaurants, why doesn’t she?  (Please, Prof. Davenport, no protests that the health-care market is ‘unique.’  Of course it’s unique; every market is unique.  But is the health-care market unique in ways that prompt people consistently to act against their financial self-interest, as you apparently expect insurance companies to do?)

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

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