John Steele Gordon replies: I confess I didn’t realize what a large percentage of companies now self-insure, as mentioned by Mr. Hunt. Still, whether a company self-insures or uses an insurance company makes no difference to the employees if the benefits are the same. What’s important is the consumer’s indifference to medical costs, not the exact means by which this indifference is fostered.
As for governments mandating toupees as a health cost and otherwise meddling for political advantage, I suspect that will always be a cost of doing business (whatever business) in this country. After all, bald people vote too.
I failed to mention HMOs and other health-care plans (such as the Canadian) only for lack of space. What I wanted to get across was that as long as the consumer of health care is not the purchaser, so long will health-care costs run riot or be contained only by rationing. The plans I did mention make that connection most directly. But by all means, as Chairman Mao said, let a hundred flowers bloom.
As for Mr. Hunt’s question about what to do about the supposed legions of Americans too irresponsible to provide for their own health care, I doubt they exist. If they did, they would be just as irresponsible in other areas of their lives, and the fundamental premise of democracy would be out the window.