We are constantly bombarded with claims from politicians and pundits that "X number of Americans can’t afford health care." But what they consistently fail to clarify is: how much health care?
Donald Boudreaux examines this topic in this 2005 article. Boudreaux approaches the subject in a manner many of you may not have thought of yet. He begins by dissecting a statement made by one of the left’s beloved NYT columnists:
" …Thomas Friedman, who asserted, in his Thanksgiving Day 2004 column, that "half the country can’t afford health care." This statement is neither right nor wrong. A statement must be meaningful to be right or wrong. But this statement is meaningless. Friedman writes as if health care is a well-defined thing that someone either gets or doesn’t get — sort of like pregnancy. You either are or you aren’t pregnant."
Bill Gates can afford far more health care than I can. He can fly in world famous specialists and have an around-the-clock medical staff tending to his every need. I can afford much less. A homeless person can afford much less than I.
Virtually all Americans can afford some amount of health care, the question is how much?
"So it is with health care choices. None of us faces the choice to purchase either all available health care or absolutely no health care. Instead, each of us decides "at the margin" whether to spend, say, $100 on a visit to the doctor ("Is this cough really so bad that I shouldn’t wait a few days to see if it goes away?"). Likewise, each of us decides whether to spend $35 for a monthly dose of Claratin ("Is my stuffy nose so bad that I should spend $35 to clear it up?")"
Politicians and pundits like Friedman do us no favors with their meaningless rhetoric such as "half the country can’t afford health care." Such claims are made with the intention of clouding the issue and to gin up public sympathy for a government takeover of health care. Of course, this leads to the question: if "universal health care" is implemented, how much health care will be included?