Posts tagged ‘Michael Cannon’

Coyote on TV

I flew to New York to go in studio on the Stossel show today.  I did a brief bit on the minimum wage, a reprise from my earlier cameo on Stossel special.  It will be on tomorrow, Thursday at 9PM Eastern on Fox Business  (not Fox News, Fox Business).

The whole experience was new to me, which made me virtually unique as I was surrounded by policy wonks who do this kind of talking head thing all the time.   By the way, there was no sharing of questions or his plan in advance -- I think they want you cold.  So answers are all in real time.

Please, please, please do not write me or post comments such as "you should have said ____."  It will just depress me.  Believe me, 5 minutes after walking out I thought of 9 things I should have said.  Which is in fact why I blog rather than engage much any more in real time argument.

Anyway, I think his show will be pretty good -- he has Michael Cannon on health care and segments after mine on cash for clunkers and alpaca subsidies.  I shared the green room with an alpaca, which will probably just go to prove the old saying about always getting upstaged by kids and animals.

By the way, I think Stossel must set a different tone for his staff than is normal on TV.  I was talking to one of his producers, a guy that had come with Stossel from ABC, and I asked him if he had studied something relevant to this job in college.  I expected him to say "yes, theater" or "yes, television production."  But he said "yes, economics at George Mason."  I loved that answer.

A Brief Observation on Pricing

Michael Cannon writes about the new trend in airline pricing to charge extra fees for different services (ranging from sodas to checked baggage).  I have seen several writers of the progressive ilk all up in arms about these extra fees.  Which in my mind confirms that there is no foundational position among progressives on such matters, only opportunistic attacks on corporations for whatever they happen to be doing.  They want air travel pricing to be bundled into one rate, covering all potential services one may or may not use.  But wait, they want cable TV pricing to be unbundled, with a la carte pricing rather than one rate so viewers can pay for only what they use. 

Anyway, the only irritation I have with the new airline pricing is that it drives people to try to carry on every bag they can, particularly since, at least on US Airways currently, bags that are gate-checked are not charged a fee.  This is fouling up security lines and making it a necessity to board early on a plane to have any hope of finding a carry-on space.  Which may add another revenue opportunity, that of charging extra for the option to board early.  Which, come to think of it, Southwest is already doing.

You Know You Have Been In Government Too Long When... equate the government choosing not to provide a service with that service being banned.  Michael Cannon quotes our Speaker of the House:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's understanding of government's role in a
liberal democracy (and of the veto power) may be worse than I thought. A reporter sends a transcript of a press conference that Pelosi held yesterday, where she made the following remarks:

Oh, [President Bush] used the veto pen to veto the stem
cell research bill.  That was a major disappointment. . . . I remember
that veto very well because he was saying, "I forbid science to proceed
to improve the health of the American people."

Regarding Bush's threatened veto of the Democrats' expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program:

The President is saying, "I forbid 10 million children
in America to have health care." You know from your Latin that is what
"veto" means.

Pelosi should know that there is a difference between the government not funding something and forbidding it.

Shopping for Health Care

I missed this article the first time around, but Arnold Kling makes a point that I have been trying to make coherently for a long time:  The biggest problem in health care is not under-insurance or efficiency or drug company profits.  The biggest problem is the insulation of the consumer from health care prices.

For health care providers, insulation is a bonanza. Because
consumers are not spending their own money, they accept doctors'
recommendations for services without questioning them and without
concern for cost. Faced with an insured patient, a health care provider
is like a restaurant catering to convention-goers with unlimited
expense accounts. The customer will gladly take the most high-end
recommendation and not worry about the price.

Consumers are
happy as well. Insulation relieves the patient of the stress of making
decisions about treatment. The patient also does not have to worry
about shopping around for the best price.

The problem with
insulation is that it is not a sustainable form of health care finance.
Individuals, employers, and government are all under stress.

Health care plans on the table basically put decision making for a) making price comparisons and b) deciding if a given procedure is worth the price -- in one of two people's hands:

  • The individual being cared for or
  • The government

That's it.  Its one or the other.  The current system of "nobody" is not sustainable.  To the extent that people have grief about their employer or their insurer, it is usually because the insurer is trying to make these decisions (someone has to) and the individual is resentful that the insurer is not making decisions the way the individual might like.  In this context, it is nuts that many people see the solution not as "let individuals take over this decision" but as "let the government do it."  I'm sure that will turn out well.

By the way, I have been with a high deductible policy for a while now, and the medical care shopping process is a real eye-opener.  I really highly recommend it -- not only am I managing the costs but I am learning more about the care itself.  For those of you who don't want to price compare,  Michael Cannon of Cato makes the very good point that everyone does not have to price shop - only a few people need to for all of us to get the benefit.  I never even look at the price of toilet paper, but I know it is probably a good price because there are folks out there who DO compare.

What He Said

From Michael Cannon at Cato:

There's a lesson here for those who want to cover the uninsured: focus on the incentives facing the 250 million Americans who have
health insurance, not on the estimated 45 million who don't. If the
federal government stopped encouraging people with health insurance to
be less careful consumers, then coverage would be more affordable, the
number of people without coverage would shrink, and the quality of care
would improve.

My family just switched to a high deductible policy, and its amazing how much our behavior has changed.  We question doctors now -- do we really need that?  We had to take my son in for a CT scan on his head (he got hit by a line drive at the hot corner the other day) and we actually asked the price before we scheduled an appointment.  When was the last time you asked the price of any medical procedure or visit?

PS- The son is fine, but half his face looks like its been inflated with a high-pressure pump.

Chicken Little Needs to Stay on Message

Michael Cannon had this funny reaction to the downward revision, by the Census Beaureu, of the estimated number of Americans without health insurance:

It is important that we not over-react to these numbers. The worst
thing we could do would be to stop panicking about the uninsured. A lot of interest groups have spent a lot of money and misused a lot of data to convince the public that this mostly healthy bunch of people
are America's #1 health care problem. If we were to go off-message now,
then Barack, Hillary, Mitt, Arnold, and all the other Chicken Littles
we've created . . . well, they might get horribly confused. Thank you
for your continued support.

I would add to this:  "And never, ever let anyone question the assumption that 'being uninsured' is the same as 'being without medical care' and never allow anyone to ask whether all of those uninsured are uninsured against their will, rather than by personal choice".

Who Is Paying For This Lunch

Michael Cannon at Cato has an analysis of who will be paying for California's health care free lunch.  If the answer is "not-Californians" and if there is no such thing as a free lunch, guess who?  (Hint: Check mirror).