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The “R” word

Albert Wenger recently penned an interesting post about the “R” word.

It’s about health insurance and why redistribution is a toxic word in U.S. politics, but also why much of what we do as a society – from public roads to insurance – is actually about redistribution. What I like about the post is that he cuts through a lot of the noise and gets right at the crux of things.

Here’s part of his conclusion:

So what should you take away from this? There always is some element of redistribution to insurance – at a minimum ex post and generally also ex ante. The “why should I (usually some healthy person) pay for x (usually some payment for someone from a different demographic)” objection to health insurance is about redistribution. We should acknowledge this openly and not pretend that it is otherwise, because then we can move forward and say “you should, because that is your contribution to how our society works.”

The point of his post, which he reiterates in the comment section, is that “insurance is a commons more than it is a market.” Too much individual choice – for instance, rich people opting out because they don’t need it – actually weakens the system.

But you should really read his entire post. It’s good.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

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