Friday, June 02, 2006

Should Michael Pay (2)

Some would say that Michael should pay to spread the risk. Cancer only strikes some of us and we do not know in advance who it will be. If we share the cost, the burden will be lighter for those who are stuck.

This is a good idea, but there are more ways of skinning a cat than getting the government to tax it. Sharing risk is not a reason for bringing in the government, because risk can be shared in many ways.

London ship-owners did not lose a ship very often, but when they did, the cost was enormous. An insurance business emerged at Edward Lloyd's coffee house in the 17th century. Insurance solved the problem by spreading the risk across a group of ship owners. The group agreed in advance that if one of them lost a ship, they would all share the cost. By sharing the risks, the shippers reduced the cost of a rare event that could cripple them. They found a good solution without involving the government.

The same applies to cancer. If we want to reduce the burden of high-cost low-risk diseases, some form of group insurance is the best solution. We can then decide how much we are willing to spend on health care. This does not have to be done through an insurance company. Any group of people could decide to share the cost of rare sickness.

Insurance does not work for frequent sicknesses that affect everyone, but neither does the government. If everyone receives and everyone pays, any intermediary will just add to the cost. The only solution is savings.

The problem is that when Michael gets involved, everything becomes a political decision. Decisions about my health care should not be made by politicians.

No comments: