Medical technology

french at RUST.ZSO.DEC.COM french at RUST.ZSO.DEC.COM
Mon Jun 1 17:30:21 EST 1992

In reply to: Bradbury at sftwks!bradbury at uunet.UU.NET

> Huh?  If the rich are paying for their own medical care why does
> this divert resources from education.  Given the structure of
> our society the people that go into medicine and the people that
> go into education are rarely an overlapping set.  If anything,
> rich people spending money on medicine will divert money from other
> questionably productive uses for their money (real estate? art?).

The point is that shifting a massive amount of resources to the
health care industry will not necessarily improve the quality of
life.   Those resources must come from somewhere and, presumably,
the other sectors of the economy serve to improve some facet of the 
quality of life.  For example, what about the family that raids little  
Johny's education fund to pay for grandpa's stay in a nursing home?

> Putting a sales tax on health care proceedures would be even harder
> to pass than one on food.  The public would never sit still for taxes
> on things which are viewed as basic needs.  

It would be absurd to tax basic health care - you can buy a lot of good 
health care for a reasonable amount of money.   What should be taxed is
health care that does not provide good value.  This would serve two purposes.
First, it would redirect resources to other areas of the economy that
serve a more important need.  And second, it would send a clear message
to the public that not all medical procedures provide an equally good value.

> You get the money indirectly anyway by taxes on doctors salaries, hospital 
> profits, equipment manufacturers profits, etc.)

Essentially, you are saying that we should let market forces determine
the price of all goods and the problem of resource allocation will take
care of itself.  There is a problem with this policy.  What happens when those
who control most of the resources have an uncontrollable desire to spend
those resources in a way that is socially irresponsible?  

Is it good policy to allow the elderly to squander their money and their
children's money on expensive health care that provides little or no social 
benefit?   Perhaps you can't stop someone from squandering their money, but
you can and should tax certain health care procedures as luxuries.

- Larry French

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