Wednesday, January 30, 2008

California Dodges a Bullet

Good news from California – the government fails to completely socialize medicine. The goals – cost control plus free access – are completely incompatible.

As any economist will tell you, make something ‘free’ (in this case, make the taxpayers pick up the tab), and demand will greatly increase. Since you can never be too healthy, the demand for ‘free’ healthcare is very, very large indeed.

So – what’s left? The government can’t afford to provide all the healthcare that people want. Most of these state plans have little or no incentives to actually increase the amount of available care (creation of new medical schools, reduced regulations, limitations on malpractice awards, pharmaceutical research, etc.) because that stuff costs money. Indeed, much of what passes for healthcare policy today seems to consist of demonization of drug companies.

What’s left is supply restrictions and rationing. Those are likely to take the form of long lines, denial of service to the politically incorrect (fat people and smokers), as well as reduced quality of care. But not to worry, those restrictions will likely be just for the little people. The politically connected will make sure that they have access to the best clinics, doctors, and medicines.