Healthcare: Society Gets What It Pays For
I have heard a lot in 2010 about health care costs to society. "It costs this much, and we can't afford it" is the general refrain.
The other side of the argument has been "It's the right thing to do, it's a right not a privilege, it's morally right to have health care for all." This is a silly debate. Both sides are missing the point.
Where are the people who should be pointing out that the money spent on health care pays for tangible benefits?
Let's make a quick analogy. To a first approximation, land, labor and capital are the inputs to an economy. To have a good economy you have to have roads - few would dispute this. If the roads get holes in them, then vehicles cannot pass, then goods and service-providers cannot reach their destinations, then the economy does not do well. For this reason we build roads and then maintain them by patching them.
For an economy to be healthy the labor force also requires this kind of maintenence. Healthy workers produce valuable output. Sick workers produce less output, maybe no output at all. When they are not sick any more they can return to the labor force.
Further, healthy workers who are afraid they will get sick and have no resources to pay for that contingency experience an economic distortion of their incentives, and therefore behave suboptimally from a macroeconomic perspective, compared to workers who know they have health care available if they get sick.
Why is everyone talking about health care costs for workers, and no one is talking about health care benefits? There are real, tangible benefits to society and the economy if the work force is healthier. Why don't we hear about that? We already have health care for everyone who is too old to work - Medicare - that really is health care money down the drain, compared to health care money spent on the health of people who could be in the healthy workforce if they were healed.
Has anyone read any article in the last year on this topic? Especially, estimates of the tangible economic benefit to society? If so, point me that way.