Peter Klein unpacks the least-discussed given of the health care debate:
Once we realize we are really talking about discrete, marginal units of particular goods and services the very notion of “universal access to health care” becomes problematic. What exactly is it that people have a universal right to? It’s analogous to debates about the environment. One can have a sort of philosophical or meta-economic commitment to “the environment,” and its protection (hoo-boy), but this means very little in terms of specific trade-offs at the margin. Is it better to have one more house or airport runway or corn field, or one more patch of meadow or forest? Being an “environmentalist” doesn’t answer that question. You know the old story: everybody values “safety,” but that doesn’t mean you never leave your house or, when you do, drive to work in a Sherman tank. You willingly sacrifice some amount of safety in exchange for units of other scarce and valuable goods (like access to the world outside your house, time spent traveling, money). Each of us evaluates this trade-off differently. Likewise, the marginal valuations of specific health-care goods and services, relative to other consumption and investment goods, cash balances, etc. varies from individual to individual. There’s no such thing as “health care.” As always, heterogeneity matters.
Very little to add here, other than the slightly obvious observation that people probably ought to know what they’re buying before writing the check.