John Stossel on health care

I posted the following on the health care blog at Bell Policy Center, a left-leaning think tank in Colorado. I look forward to their comments.

This week’s 20/20 will be about health care in the United States. The story on the ABC News website reads:

Healthy in Cuba, Sick in America?
John Stossel Takes on Michael Moore, Examines Government-Run Health Care

Based on John Stossel’s recent columns about health care, I expect he will also discuss several other topics, which I list below. My guess is that many people reading this blog both know of John Stossel and that he is outspoken about his free-market libertarian views. (No, he’s not a conservative.) And if you’ve been reading any of my posts, you’d be right to guess I share these views. In fact, I can unabashedly say that John Stossel is a hero of mine.

That said, and knowing about cogntive biases, I may not be as critical of what Stossel says about health care reform than someone who is predisposed to an anti-market bias or, lacking bias (if possible), favors government controls over individual choices. So, if you’re one of those people prone to be more critical of Stossel’s report on health care, would you mind documenting them as comments to this post? It will surely assist in my overcoming my biases (the goal of the OvercomingBias blog).

As promised, here’s a list of some articles John Stossel has written on health care:

1. Why the U.S. Ranks Low on WHO’s Health-Care Study
“The New York Times recently declared “the disturbing truth … that … the United States is a laggard not a leader in providing good medical care.” As usual, the Times editors get it wrong. …”

2. Another Bogus Report Card for U.S. Medical Care
“In May, the Commonwealth Fund issued its latest comparison of the U.S. medical system with five other wealthy nations’ systems: Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Great Britain. … More ridiculous is the arbitrary way the Commonwealth Fund assigns weight to each of its measures. The proportion of patients who say they got infected at a hospital counts about the same in the “quality” measure as the proportion of doctors who use automated computer systems to remind them to tell patients their test results. Those things aren’t equal in my book.”

3. Let Wisconsin Experiment with Socialized Medicine
“Want to buy insurance from another state, like nearby Michigan, where an average policy costs less? Too bad. It’s against the law to buy across state lines. Your state’s Big Brother knows best.”

4. Michael and Me
“America’s medical system has problems, but profit is the least of it. Government mandates, overregulation and a tax code that pushes employer-paid health insurance prevent the free market from performing its efficient miracles. Six out of seven health-care dollars are spent by third parties. That kills the market. Patients rarely shop around, and doctors rarely compete on price or service.”

5. No Drug Price Controls
“We should be suspicious when someone promises benefits from a government monopoly. Government doesn’t produce things. It simply uses force to move things around. So why think that Medicare, hardly a paragon of efficiency, should be given the power to negotiate — in reality, control — prices?”

6. Getting medical insurance from your boss is a bad idea
“Insurance burdens us with paperwork, invites cheating, and, worst of all, creates a moral hazard that distorts incentives. The first question people ask a doctor who recommends a test is not “Do I really need that?” but “Does my insurance cover it?” Insurance raises costs by insulating consumers from medicine’s real prices.”


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