Monday, July 06, 2009

Beware the Hidden Costs

Supporters of government-run medical care frequently point to the "affordability" of this type of system, but such terms are inherently misleading. What pundits really mean by slogans about "bringing down the cost of healthcare" often involve programs or policies that lower the price paid out-of-pocket by the patient. This is not to be confused with the actual lowering of the total cost of medical treatment.

Thomas Sowell explains it best in his recently revised book, Applied Economics (2009 edition):

"Since governments get their resources used for medical care by taking those resources from the general population through taxation, there is no net reduction in the cost of maintaining health or curing sicknesses simply because the money is routed through...government bureaucracies, rather than being paid by patients and doctors."

In fact, it's bureaucracy-either a government bureaucracy or a private insurance company bureaucracy-that raises the cost of medical care.

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