July 24, 2008

Using Government-Run Healthcare to End Age Inequality

Carroll Andrew Morse

William Saletan of Slate Magazine's Human Nature Blog says one of the purposes of government run health care system should be to reduce age inequality. And he's not just talking about making people with shorter lives live longer (h/t Mona Charen)…

Isn't health, like wealth, an unequally distributed asset? Isn't it, in fact, the ultimate asset? And if that's the case, should we means-test people on Medicare not just for wealth, but for age?

Actually, means testing is the wrong term. Age isn't really a means; it's more like an end. So let's call it an ends test. The theory is that just as some people have enough money, others have had enough time.

If you make it to 100 and can fund your own surgery, that's terrific. But Medicare should focus its resources on people who haven't been as lucky as you. Living to 99 is no tragedy. It's a blessing.

Remember, if you ever get stuck in a Medicare-for-all or other fully socialized type of healthcare system, the people who have ultimate control over your healthcare access could end up being people like William Saletan, who believe that it is a function of government to decide how much life is too much.

One of the reasons I chose healthcare as the topic for Anchor Rising's most recent appearance on the Matt Allen Show is that regular people need to start thinking about these kinds of arguments right now, as there is a very high probability that the next President of the United States is going to put some kind of major healthcare before Congress, and people need to be aware of how much "if there are fewer people living shorter lives, the people who are left will be better off"-type thinking is influencing American policy makers -- and whether that thinking needs to be vigorously challenged.

Finally, it is my sincere hope that Saletan's item makes a few people on the left ponder, even if just for a few moments, whether it is a good idea to always uncritically accept "ending inequality" as a legitimate goal for government policy.