If healthcare were like mail, we’d all be a lot happier

HUMAN 1:
Can you rationally explain why people not having health insurance is actually bad from an economic standpoint?
Healthy people take less time off from work. This is part of why eradicating communicable diseases like polio, malaria, measles, etc., from the United States and other developed nations was so important. People who aren’t getting sick from dirty water or infection are people who are better able to consistently engage in economic activity. If you have a business where you aren’t sure when or how much of your labor force will be able to show up, that uncertainty is going to affect your bottom line.

Additionally, people who are able to take care of their sicknesses and injuries immediately or when noticed early make it much cheaper to treat overall because many conditions become more complicated and expensive to cure as they progress. If you catch cancer in the beginning stages, not only is the prognosis better, you also don’t need to spend anywhere near the amount of resources to cure it compared with a cancer that’s only caught after it’s metastasized and its symptoms are more obvious.

Because it’s less expensive to treat, many fewer people will have to declare bankruptcy when they choose to save the lives of themselves and their loved ones. As of 2009, 62 percent of all bankruptcies were medical-related. Obamacare didn’t solve that problem or perhaps go far enough, but people who have to close their business or pay off medical debt aren’t spending money to invest in their community or grow its economy. Some people do become wealthier, like breaking windows benefits the glass repair company, but overall, society does not become wealthier.

Finally, children who suffer from preventable and treatable illnesses won’t be as productive economically as they grow older, and adults who are injured or die from something treatable are wasting the investment of education and experience already put into them. Even viewing people completely cynically and without moral compassion, you’re squandering resources by allowing economic engines to break and disregarding their entire future productive capability unless they have the wealth immediately to repair themselves.

More fundamentally and in the long term, by tying health-care access to wealth, it deepens the divide between rich and poor, lowers overall economic productivity, and weakens the social contract.

If poor people believe they live in a society where they’re unable to feed, clothe, and provide lifesaving care to their children, they aren’t going to be very invested in that society or trust in its authority. So you would also expect crime, drug use, and general social turmoil to rise.

Continue reading If healthcare were like mail, we’d all be a lot happier

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Guns don’t kill people, and backhoes don’t dig holes in the ground

On Wednesday, my post about the effect on suicides from widespread personal gun ownership in the United States got a fair bit of attention.

The title distracted a lot of readers from the content of the article, which isn’t surprising. Even for those who read it, there were a few common objections, which are collected here to be answered in more depth.

1. ARGUMENT: ‘The U.S. military doesn’t have a suicide problem. It’s actually lower than the general population when you consider most service members are 18 to 30 years old and male.’

Continue reading Guns don’t kill people, and backhoes don’t dig holes in the ground