Podcast: Health Insurance Is Like An All-You-Can-Eat Buffet


It's got to do with health care, but not with overeating. The Truth About...'s/Flickr Creative Commons hide caption

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On today's Planet Money:

Much of the debate over changing the U.S. health care system concerns the Americans who can't get care. But a majority of Americans have insurance of one type or another, and for them, the health care system often more closely resembles an all-you-can-eat buffet.

If you want to get your knee fixed, you can. If you want that drug you saw on T.V., no problem. As a consumer, you don't have to worry too a great deal about the price, to a point, because your employer pays much of your premiums and the insurer picks up much of the medical cost.

David Goldhill, author of an Atlantic article called "How American Health Care Killed My Father," calculates that the average cost of a family's health insurance over a lifetime is $1.7 million. Goldhill proposes that Americans pay for routine care up to $50,000 over their lifetimes, and then be required to build health savings accounts that would cover the rest.

Goldhill's idea strikes Richard Kirsch of Health Care for America Now as very dangerous proposition. He says you can't treat medicine like any other commodity.

Bonus: Video: "Principles of economics, translated," after the jump.

Download the podcast; or subscribe. Intro music: The Cribs' "I'm a Realist." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Flickr.

Yoram Bauman, the Stand-up Economist, says you need a Ph.D. in economics to understand it — and fortunately, he's got one. Here, Bauman finds the funny in Greg Mankiw's signal textbook, Principles of Economics.



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