Thursday, May 03, 2012

Intellectual Nonfeasance 

The rate of cost escalation in health care seems to be slowing down but nobody knows why. 

A front page article in the Sunday New York Times of April 29 reports that health care costs rose at a rate of less than four per cent during 2009 and 2010.  This is close to a sustainable rate and much lower than had been the case in previous years. 

When asked what had caused the change, the standard answer from the academics and gurus quoted was that they had no idea. 

I take that to be a sad commentary on the performance of the intellectual community.  After all the attention that has been given to health issues during recent years, after all of the concern expressed over the high and rising cost of health care, and despite the millions spent annually on research in the field of health care, the level of understanding of the economics of health care remains at such a primitive level that when there is a significant change in economic trends, no one can come up with so much as a plausible theory to explain what is going on. 

I attribute this to the intellectual community‚Äôs obsession with single payer; i.e., national health insurance.  Single payer would pretty much cancel out any operation of market forces in health care and individuals in academia apparently have been afraid to explore the subject of how those forces work for fear that such exploration would be seen as a lack of dedication to the single payer idea. 

I call that intellectual nonfeasance.

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