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Princeton Economist Flirts with Competitive Governance for Health Care

July 3, 2012

At the NYTimes, Uwe Reinhardt takes up a familiar idea here in these pages:

Here is my idea of an approach. Let us set up two distinct systems for health care within our nation. Call one the Social Solidarity system and the other the Libertarian system. Ask young people — at age 25 or so — to choose one or the other.

People joining the Social Solidarity system would know that they will be asked to subsidize their less fortunate fellow citizens in health care through taxes or premiums or both. They would also know, however, that the community will take care of them, and they will not go broke, should serious illness befall them.

People choosing the Libertarian system would not have to pay taxes to subsidize other people’s health care, and they would pay actuarially fair health insurance premiums — low for healthy people and high for sicker people.

Libertarians, however, would not be allowed to come into the Social Solidarity system, unless they were so pauperized as to qualify for Medicaid. Hospitals would have every right to use tough measures to make them pay their medical bills in full, to prevent freeloading at the expense of others.

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  2. July 4, 2012 10:34 am

    No one is “flirting” with anything here. This is simply the typical sophomoric sarcasm and abuse of Libertarian principles. In a Libertarian community members would be free to donate as much of their resources as they saw fit to “their less fortunate fellow citizens,” providing the desired “safety net.” Health care practitioners and their clients could negotiate fair exchanges according to their ethics and abilities.

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