Tue, 26 Apr 2011

Health Care Consumers

People are bringing up the point that people simply don't shop for health care. That we're not consumers. Usually that people are non-economists, like some ER doc who thinks that he had to study for 8 years to become a doc, but that economists are just people with opinions. Or like Paul Krugman, who gave up any claim to be an economist years ago.

To these people, I say: just *try* to be a consumer. Presume that somebody actually could act as a consumer, and go buy their health care. An honest seeker after the truth will quickly realize that so few people pay for their own health care that prices aren't available. Go into a doctor's office and say "I'd like a 20 minute visit with the doc -- how much will that cost?" and the staff will be flabbergasted. Chances are very good that they won't know what to tell you. This could make the point that people who consume health care aren't consumers (although it's hard to state that relationship without using the "C" word). I think, instead, that it makes the point that people are consumers, but they're not purchasers.

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