Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ezra Klein: Still Batting .000

One of ObamaCare©'s key features is the requirement that insurers cover routine, preventive care from dollar one. Of course, this increases premiums, but the trade-off, at least according to the "pass it to see what's in it" folks, would be well worth it.

Many years ago, I had an enlightening conversation with a company rep. I posited that paying for (or at least counting towards the deductible) routine preventive care was a win-win for insurers: catching that breast cancer early meant reducing the risk of very expensive treatment later on, and insured's would have an incentive to be aware of their own health.

The rep replied with what I still consider today to be one of the stupidest things I've ever heard from his ilk: "Well, you don't expect your car insurance to pay for tune-ups, do you?"

Now Bob's made this point many, many times, and I agree with it: how much more expensive would your car insurance be if it covered tune-ups, oil changes, and tire rotation?

But that's a far cry from the conclusion that a well-running car equals a safer driver.

In the event, the train wreck was rammed down our throats passed, and so carriers are required to pay for routine screenings.

Which is where Wunderkind Ezra Klein comes in:

"Robin Hanson posts some carefully conducted studies suggesting that certain cancer screenings don’t seem to have any effect on overall mortality. It’s not that they don’t work: The evidence says they catch cancers. They just don’t save lives."

From that questionable premise, Ezra concludes that "if you want to control health-care costs, you somehow need to convince, incentivize or otherwise conscript doctors into doing it for you."


In Ezra's world, "personal responsibility" is simply a non-starter: we should all abdicate our own judgment to the recommendations of our physicians.

Tell that to Jan.

What's amusing about Ezra's little epiphany is that his premise - that increased access to health care increases the cost of that health care - is so, well, passe. After all, we've been making this point for nigh on 6 years.

What took you so long, Ezzie?

[Hat Tip: Ace of Spades]
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