Costs and Lifestyle

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At the risk of commenting on something that I have no business commenting on, I think Mona gives Mark Steyn too much credit here:

Mark Steyn actually has something insightful to say about the inherent risks of any nationalized, single payer health care scheme: namely, all taxpayers and the state then develop a stake in ones personal choices, and that becomes a potent reason to prohibit and regulate everything from smoking, to trans-fats to a sedentary lifestyle. Or, as he points out, gay sex. (“Promiscuous” het sex, of course, also carries health consequences which the state could acquire an interest in curbing.)

Okay, but two objections:

  1. There have already been numerous prohibitions on various lifestyle choices even without single payer health care; I suppose that single payer could give someone trying to pass a sodomy law an extra rhetorical wedge, but it doesn’t strike me as being terribly consequential.
  2. There are, as Mona says, 46 million uninsured in the US, but they aren’t uninsured in the sense that they can be regularly refused treatment in acute life threatening situations. As Ezra et al have pointed out regularly, the United States doesn’t actually have a private system of health care; it has a Frankenstein’s monster of health care, an amalgamation of many of the worst aspects of both a public and a private system. I doubt very much that a single payer system would introduce a new set of attacks on lifestyle choices that can’t already be made with the Medicaid/Medicare system.

Then again, it’s possible (probable?) that I just don’t know anything useful about health care, and perhaps a bit less possible that Mark Steyn actually does have something useful to say.

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