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Affordable (Cambodian) Health Care

Jun 16, 2012 • Behavioral Economics, Demand, Supply, and Markets, Developing Economies, Economic Humor, Thinking Economically, Uncategorized • 159 Views    No Comments

A village in Cambodia had problems with affordable health care but they found a solution.

Traditionally,  if someone got sick, the gods had to be appeased with an offering that might include a buffalo, a cow, some bananas, incense, rice wine, a chicken. It was expensive–nearly $500 US dollars. But their religion, a mixture of animism and Theravada Buddhism, said healing meant sacrifice.

Maybe this is where the law of demand enters the picture. With the arrival of evangelical Christian missionaries came a cheaper health care solution. As one resident said, “…If I did not believe in Jesus, maybe at this time I would still be poor… ” and another added, “…we don’t have money to buy buffaloes, chickens and pigs to pray for the spirits of the god of land or the god of water when those gods make us get sick.”

Where does this leave us? Whether looking at Cambodian or US health care, the law of demand, with price and quantity inversely related, is a powerful incentive.

We should also note that one source of the ripple of change for these Cambodian villagers was repaving National Road 78. Improved to facilitate logging in the area, the road also has exposed local villagers in Ratanakiri to new ideas, to Western medicine, to better schooling and to more missionaries. This article in the Phnom Penh Post gives the details. And thanks to marginal revolution for the link.

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