Consumer DrivenHealth Care

by Rob Horning

17 February 2006


This Washington Post story details Bush’s latest attempt—weirdly enough, at the headquarters of a fast-food chain, Wendy’s—to promote “consumer-driven health care,” which amounts to foisting more responsibility onto the sick person for decoding Byzantine health bills and for deciding which corners to cut in their efforts to get healthy. Because if there’s one thing you want to be tight-fisted about, it’s your own health; that’s second nature, right? And of course, we all feel comfortable telling our doctor that we don’t trust her, and we don’t really think that MRI she’s advocating is necessary—after all who knows your body better, you or some stupid doctor?

The main problem with the consumer-driven scheme is that for many Americans, price signals quality, and they will always choose the more expensive option for their health as long as they can afford it. We learned from the Clinton health-care-reform attempt that American’s are afraid of rationing; Bush has made each of us our own rationer and calls it freedom, and perhaps to some people it is. People should be free to die when they can’t afford health care.

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