Thursday, May 28, 2009

If I pick my own pocket, I have change in my hand.

From a KGUN 9 (Tucson) report on a health care "town hall" meeting put on by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:
Rebecca Wilson is a physical therapist. She thinks if we help doctors cover the cost of medical school they won't have to charge such high fees.

"The ones that do go into these kinds of professions that are coming out of school with 100 thousand dollars of debt or more they have to be motivated by money."

They don't require much economics training or analytic thinking in general to be a physical therapist, do they? "Motivated by money" is usually a good thing; we want more people supplying high-priced services, as it makes them cheaper. (Ponder that for a few days, Ms Wilson!)

Moreover, since when was the price of health care--or health insurance, which isn't the same thing--high because med school is expensive? But even if this were the case, it doesn't become cheaper to subsidize medical doctors' tuition fees with taxes, which is presumably what is meant here by "we help". To first approximation, the price of medical services would be offset by the amount of the subsidy. There would be a redistribution from patients to non-patients, a sort of forced insurance-like spreading, but not weighted by risk, which is what these people are calling for anyway, but there'd be no reduction of total cost. When one considers that the med schools will be able to charge more, because more physicians will be able to afford a higher tuition fee once there is a subsidy, it's evident that such a scheme would drive costs up.

Magical thinking abounds. Some people think we can become wealthier by picking our own pockets.