In an interesting piece in Slate, economist Steven E. Landsburg argues that it wasn't wrong when a Florida hospital unplugged a poor woman from a ventilator when she couldn't pay her medical bills even though she later died. "Economic considerations are the basis of true compassion," he wrote. According to Mr. Landsburg, if the woman had been offered the choice between buying "ventilator insurance" and buying food, she would probably have chosen food, therefore why should society be stuck with her medical bill? I couldn't agree more. I think this is an idea that should be expanded and may even solve our health care crisis. Imagine if instead of having to buy insurance for diseases we will never get, we bought insurance only for diseases we might get. Think of the savings. For example, I have been vaccinated for polio so it's unlikely I'll ever get polio. Right now my insurance premiums go to pay for other people who do get polio, who really should have gotten vaccinated. Is that fair? Why should I pay for expensive drugs for gay people who get AIDS? A much better system would be to have insurance companies sell insurance for different diseases individually. For example, I could elect to buy cancer insurance or heart disease insurance but pass on Avian Flu insurance. The money I might have spent on buying Avian flu insurance that I would never use could go to buying an Ipod or something else I might need. Of course, if I did get Avian flu, a hospital would be perfectly within its rights to turn me away, but that's the risk I took. This kind of a la carte insurance could be applied across the entire industry. Someone in the Midwest, for example, wouldn't want to pay for tsunami insurance, but someone living on the coast might. If people want to live on the coast, that's fine, but they should pay for the risk they assume and not expect other people to pay for it. Instead of buying just car insurance people could buy "rear-end-collision insurance" and "drunk-driver insurance" and "brakes-giving-out insurance."
I must say, Mr. Landsburg was very brave to write this article considering that the media and academia are controlled by liberals who might not like what he has to say. Liberals can be pretty vindicative and no doubt some might think he should be fired from Slate or lose his teaching job at the University of Rochester. Hopefully, he will not suffer economically for it because it would be a tragedy if someday he ended up in the hospital and was unable to pay his bills. But I'm sure if that happened, he wouldn't want to be a burden on the rest of us.