NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Demanding That Other People's Money Pay for Medical Expenses

July 9, 2002

Sadly, many Americans believe that other people should be required to pay their medical bills. That shows up throughout the politics of health care -- from government mandates for insurance coverage of a variety of procedures to demands that Medicare cover prescription drug costs.

Here are some examples and some effects of this health-care entitlement mentality:

  • Some 39 million Americans lack health-care insurance in large part because mandates have driven up premium costs beyond their reach, or they know they can get emergency-room care for free and regular care through Medicaid.
  • Even though today's seniors receive $2.50 in benefits for every dollar they have paid into Medicare, according to a report in the Economist magazine, many want a drug benefit added to the program.
  • A recent poll of seniors established that 69 percent would only be willing to contribute $30 a month to a Medicare drug benefit -- while 30 percent were not willing to spend a dime.

The same survey found that few adults understand what health economists have long known -- a large portion of the rise in health-care costs is the result of people spending more, and caring little, when health care is paid for using other people's money.

Source: Devon Herrick (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Picking Up the Tab and Hiking Costs," Washington Times, July 5, 2002.


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