Monday, October 26, 2009

On Free Snacks

This blog has none, sadly. But some time ago Senator Landrieu from Louisiana told us that there is no free lunch in health care, either:

Asked specifically about polling data showing the public option with strong national support, the conservative Democrat added, "I think that when people hear 'public option,' they hear 'free health care.' Everybody wants free health care. Everybody wants health care they don't have to pay for. The problem is that we as government and business have to pick up the tab, and as individuals. So I'm not at all surprised that the public option has been sold as free health care. But there is no free lunch."

It is of course true that there is no free lunch. Resources are spent to make that salad and that omelet and those resources are not then available for other uses. The same basic arguments apply to health care.

Where Landrieu goes wrong is in her assumption that we don't already grapple with the same dilemma. When an uninsured person goes to the ER, who pays for that visit? Take a few guesses and you will probably be right on all of them. Some of the costs will be passed over to the government, some to the charges insured patients pay.