Monday, June 07, 2010

Do we really ration health care in the US?

Opponents of the health care reform bill warn against rationing. The convenient swat-down of that objection is the argument that we are already rationing in the US. While that argument has been accepted almost uncritically it doesn't stand in the face of the ordinary and generally accepted definition of rationing:

Government allocation of scarce resources and consumer goods, usually adopted during wars, famines, or other national emergencies. Rationing according to use prohibits the less important uses of a commodity (e.g., the use of gasoline for pleasure trips as opposed to work-related travel). Rationing by quantity limits the amounts of a commodity available to each claimant (e.g., a pound of butter per month). Rationing by value limits the amount of money consumers can spend on commodities that are difficult to standardize (e.g., clothing). Point rationing assigns a point value to each commodity and allocates a certain number of points to each consumer. These can be tracked through coupons, which are issued to consumers and must be exchanged for the approved amounts of rationed goods. Consumers in a rationed economy are usually encouraged to save their money or invest in government bonds so that unspent money will not be used for unrationed items or purchases on the black market.

Here's more insight from Wesley Smith at Secondhand Smoke:

Because some people can’t afford cars, doesn’t mean that automobile ownership is rationed. It means some people can’t afford a car and therefore have to find alternative means of transportation. Rationing occurs when a government legally imposes limits on access to a service or product–as it did with gasoline during World War II.

Health care, rationing–in the sense for which Berwick swoons–is a form of invidious discrimination, that is, some people are denied efficacious treatment under the force of law that is available to other people, based on membership in predetermined categories, e.g. age, disability, seriousness of illness, etc.

Read the rest.

1 comment:

blacktag said...

Limits are placed upon all sorts of care, whether by government (Medicare) or by private insurance companies. If that is not rationing, what it?