Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jeffrey Tucker: If Food Service Ran Like Health Care/Insurance

The other day on the Laizzes Faire Club blog, Jeffrey Tucker related a story of how he ended up at a restaurant and enjoyed a $5 bottle of wine and a $7 cheeseburger. He then pondered what it would be like if the food industry ran like the health care/insurance industry:

Now, let’s just replay this situation according to modern health care rules, which is to pretend that the food market plays by the same rules as the medical market.
You walk in and ask about the special of the day. The waiter wants to see your food insurance card. So you dig around and find it. He points out that you have a high deductible. This means you have a minimum amount to pay if you happen to order anything that is not covered on your food plan. But you don’t happen to have your food plan on you, so you really don’t know if burgers and wine are covered.
In any case, you order wine, but there’s only one kind available. So you ask the price. They don’t know. They are stunned that you would even ask. It will show up on the final bill, and much of how much you pay depends on your food planners and the plan you’re on.
Fine. Let’s move on to the meal. You’d like a burger, but you need to know the various options. Again, the waiter points out that the need to have a burger is a matter of human dignity. Human beings cannot and should not be tainted by issues of choice over what you’d be willing to pay for. This is why we have food insurance: so that no one may ever go hungry.
But wait just a minute. What if you’re actually concerned that you’ll get too much to eat? What’s the point of paying for tons of things you don’t actually want?
Plus, the only cheese I truly love is pepper jack. I’ve tried cheddar, provolone, American, Swiss, and all the rest, but I only actually connect at a deeper level with pepper jack. Criticize me if you want. It’s just the way it is.
The waiter rolls his eyes: the burger experts know what is best. He has no idea why I’m being such a problem eater. I should be a “good eater” just like “good patients” in hospitals and just accept what is coming to them. This is how we go about doing our part to serve the common good.
Several months later, you finally see the bill for your meal. Part of it is paid by the food insurer and part is paid out of pocket. The hamburger fryer has his bill, as does the bun person, and the waiter gets his cut… well, you get the point.
There is a huge number of specialists involved here! We dare not deny them their income, else we find ourselves without food! Never mind that the bill is through the roof. Hundreds of dollars, even thousands.
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Scary, ain't it?
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