September 20, 2006 9:37AM

Holman Jenkins on Health Care

In the Wall Street Journal, he writes,

That Rand's clinicians found care quality so uneven is evidence both of the problem and the effort to grapple with it. But patients are not being called upon to know whether removing their spleens is the recommended treatment for a headache. If you were thinking that's what "consumer-directed" health care meant, you can relax.

The sole object is to put price tags back on health care so consumers can see them and respond to them.

Health care is said to be different from other markets, but the difference that really jumps out is that we are unwilling to let people go without these services just because they can't pay. The solution is equally obvious, if easier said than done efficiently: provide subsidies to those who can't afford care.

Just saying so throws a clarifying light on the very different dilemmas for which consumer-directed health care is meant as a corrective. These dilemmas arise because of our habit of shoveling subsidies at those who don't need them. We give the biggest tax breaks for employer-provided insurance to those in the highest brackets. We make everyone over 65 eligible for taxpayer-funded medical care regardless of financial need and, more insidiously, regardless of past opportunity to save.

Read the whole thing. From a Crisis of Abundance perspective, it's common sense.