Monday, January 03, 2011

What the heck is VBID?

Caution: extreme wonkery ahead. Which is not to say that that there's extreme clarity ahead: after all, on what planet does this phrase make sense:

"Value-based insurance design (VBID) has emerged as an important tool for tamping down health care spending by lowering consumer cost-sharing."

Get that? Spend more, cost less.

But that's the kind of mental gymnastics in which the folks behind ObamaCare© must engage. It's basic economics: make something more available and cheaper, and demand will rise. When demand rises, one of two things will occur:

One, prices will continue to decline (e.g. e-Books, flat-screen TV's), or

Two, prices will increase (e.g. insurance, health care)

Which path a given product will follow is a function, as Bob's pointed out, of its "elasticity:"

"Sugar has price elasticity. As the price of sugar rises, demand decreases since there are substitutes for sugar ... Gasoline is inelastic ... At this time, there really is no substitute for gasoline."

Same for health care: there is no "substitute" for it, like Equal or Truvia (or honey, for that matter). When you remove an insured's "skin in the game," their own share in the cost, then there's no reason for the consumer to refrain from accessing the benefit. The problem is that there is a finite, and steadily shrinking, supply of providers who can, well, provide these services. Short of capping physicians' wages (and who believes that this is beyond the pale when it comes to HHS Secretary Shecantbeserious?), how does increasing the demand for health care translate to lowering its cost?

And so I would propose a somewhat more accurate translation for the aforementioned acronym: Very Bad Idea, Dimwits.
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