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Random Health Care Notes

Mar 1, 2010 • Thinking Economically • 287 Views    No Comments

Last summer, at a Fourth of July picnic, a 75 year old great-grandmother, told by her doctor not to eat a hot dog because of its high sodium content, said, “I’m going to have a hot dog.  If I’m dead in the morning, I’ll never know.”

Other random health care notes…
1. A recent study concluded that Medicare costs are skyrocketing because of outpatient treatment of obesity related diseases.
2. A typical person in NY state drinks 46 gallons of sugary drinks annually which contain a total of forty pounds of sugar.  Sixty percent of adults and twenty-five percent of children in NY state are obese or overweight.
3. Starting next September, NY State might levy a tax on sugary drinks.
4. Pondering national health legislation and perhaps universal coverage, six Congressmen were pictured eating chippers, aka “North Dakota Diet Food” (chocolate-covered potato chips).

All of this takes me to a dilemma.  If government pays for our health care, should it have the right to tell us what to eat? 

The Economic Life
Whenever a nation answers the three basic economic questions–what to produce, how to produce, and who gets income–it is deciding the role for government.  We could imagine a continuum with the free market at one end and a command economy on the other side.  Adding government programs pushes that country closer to the command/government end.  Many economies have a mixture of a free market and government.

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