Fire Insurance Is Worthless!
After all, there’s no evidence that it prevents fires.
But strange to say (as Mark Thoma points out in correspondence), people seem to think it’s a good idea anyway.
I leave the relevance of this thought to the Medicaid discussion as an exercise for readers.
This is the most common defense being dragged out in response to the Oregon study: that maybe health insurance doesn’t actually improve health. But it saves people from being financially ruined by a health crisis! Isn’t that good?
Let’s put aside that the liberals have spent the last four decades insisting that a lack of insurance kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. Let’s put aside that they will drag that bogus stat back out from behind the barn if the next Oregon study shows health gains from Medicaid (and probably even if it doesn’t). No, let’s concentrate on this:
This is what conservatives and libertarians have been saying for a very very long time.
This what is David Goldhill said in his excellent essay four fucking years ago. This is what I have said many many many times. I have specifically asked people to imagine how much car insurance would cost if it paid for every gasup (and how efficient our cars would be). I have specifically pointed out how expensive fire insurance would be if it covered every burnt meal. A number of us have called specifically for catastrophic health insurance that is more modelled after fire insurance than our current “first dollar coverage” model, at least on the government side. For that, we have been mocked as heartless and clueless. We’ve been told that health insurance is fundamentally different from other forms of insurance (which it is, when you consider it a handout).
Now the liberals want to pretend that this is a novel argument? They want to pretend they have discovered that the real benefit of health insurance is risk mitigation, not magical health fairies? Seriously?
I suppose I should be happy. This is progress in liberal thinking, after all. But no, I’m not happy. Because they have turned to this explanation as an excuse for why the Oregon study hasn’t yet shown the huge benefits they thought Medicaid expansion would produce. The minute the wind turns, the minute the next study shows even minimal health gains, they will tack and suddenly start saying that insurance is the only thing that keeps people from dropping dead in the street.