Bismarck and Healthcare Insurance: DeLong and DeShort of It
The world’s 1st national health insurance system served the health of the stateCommentary by John C Goodman
August 12, 2013
Source: Psychology Today
Brad DeLong at The Health Care blog makes these assertions:
- Bismarck created the world’s first national health insurance system 130 years ago because he wanted to make the German people healthier.
- The rationale for national health insurance in the U.S. today is the same as it was for Bismarck.
- People can’t pay for expensive care without health insurance and without health insurance they can’t get health care.
- “So, unless we adopt the view that those without ample savings who fall seriously ill should quickly die (and so decrease the surplus population), a country with national health insurance will be a wealthier and more successful country.”
Hmm. It’s hard to know where to start.
- It’s doubtful that anything Bismarck did 130 years ago made anyone healthier. In those days doctors probably did as much harm as good.
- But that wasn’t his purpose anyway: Bismarck created social insurance in order to tie the self-interest of the individual to the state. He wasn’t trying to strengthen individuals. He was trying to strengthen government.
- There is precious little evidence that insuring people increases their life expectancy. Amy Finkelstein, for example found that the establishment of Medicare did not improve the health of the elderly.
You cannot give people as a whole more medical care unless you have a plan to use idle health care resources or unless you have a plan to create more providers. ObamaCare doesn’t do either of these things. (Also see my book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.)