Different views on health care

Although the legislative battle over health care is complete, the debate continues. Part of this debate stems from different ways of looking at the role of health care in our economy. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden summarizes the competing views.

“You are right … . I think although we do have a health care bill, and it is going to be implemented, I think the debate goes on. And … really one of the sources for the debate is that people do really look at health care in different ways. On the one hand, I’ll call it the market view of health care, says, ‘Hey, health care is just like any other product or service. What you want people to do is go out and gather information look at prices and make decisions about the type of care that they want and are willing to pay for and can afford.’ And so in that case, if you think that is the system we should have, you want to have competition. You do want to have profit motivation, and you want people to be actively involved in making their own health care decisions.

“But there is another entirely different view, (which) says …, ‘Look: that model may work for some products, but it doesn’t work for health care — one reason being the average person just doesn’t know enough and never will know enough to make informed decisions about health care. Another reason is that health care is not something you can often times delay. If you are bleeding, you have got to have care so you are not in a position to really make decisions. And then thirdly most people rely on someone else to make these decisions at least partially for them, and that is the doctor. And price is really irrelevant when your health care is at stake.’ And so this point of view says that in this situation you really need to have a more managed type of health care, probably managed by the federal government because you don’t have the typical economic indicators and economic motivations going on.

“So this battle between how we really view health care I think is at the core of the debate over the recently passed health care plan.”

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