June 2, 2006 10:03AM

A Return‐​Quibble

Two days ago, I blogged that Americans spend too much for health care as a result of the bizarre health care financing system that has been fostered by government regulation and tax provisions. Michael Tanner subsequently responded that my claim makes little sense in a free society–Americans, who are wealthy, consume more health care because they simply prefer more health care and they have the money to buy it.

Permit me a response to Michael’s response. I offer a lengthy counter on my own blog; here is an excerpt of my reply:

I think of the American health care system not as a free‐​market system, but as a government‐​designed contraption constructed to vacuum money out of the pockets of consumers and into the pockets of health‐​care providers. A lot of this contraption is built into state regulations of health insurance and provider licensing. The Federal government adds an important layer by encouraging “employer‐​provided health insurance” (i.e., vacuuming wages into prepaid health plans).


Our difference is tactical. Tanner wants to put libertarians on the side of saying, “The American health care system is the finest in the world. Don’t mess it up with a socialized system like everyone else’s.”

I think that tactic is vulnerable to charges that people in other countries are healthier, charges which very well may be true. I would rather be in the position of attacking our vacuum contraption than defending it.

The debate continues…