Fastforward to 2009, tonight. I go into Wal-Mart to pick up my prescription. I have eczema. It's quite irritating, and although I could live without the medicine, I wouldn't really want to. It's definitely worth the $7.50 I paid for it to me. But guess what it retails for? $143.00. It's a 4 oz. tube of ointment. What would happen if we stopped insuring things like skin-care? Would I be faced with the decision between no medicine and paying $143.00/mo. for this ointment?
I don't know the answer to this. There have been creams and ointments since 1900 that were more or less as effective as what I'm using now. The new stuff probably tests marginally better in a lab, but the testers are probably being paid by the corporation to get the results right. The guy on the radio suggested that a big part of the problem is that insurance has been conventionally "employer-based" for a long time, which has (inefficiently) separated consumers from the price of the consumed goods. I know that my laissez-faire Austrian economists would say (convincingly, in my opinion) that prices as absurd as that could never find their way into a system that was unregulated. They would say that regulation creates the conditions that make such absurdities possible.
This all seems interesting to me. I'm listening. It seems incredibly strange to me that a person might say that I have a right, by virtue of being born American, to as many $143.00 tubes of skin cream as I need -- that I should never have to pay for it -- that the government (i.e., other taxpayers) should pay for my medicines, and I for theirs.