I’m sure many of you have already heard about this tragic story in some form or fashion. If not, check it out, and give it some serious thought. We tend to think of healthcare (and health insurance) as being wholly independent entities, country to country. At their heart, though, these “industries” are globally-connected, financial instruments, with many similarities to the globally-connected banking system (see this post for some discussion on that).
I will say, though, that the root of Japan’s insurance crisis can be summarized in this statement (from Junkfood Science):
Single-payer medical insurance systems fail in part because of what they called “the tragedy of the commons.” Japanese health care is a typical example, they said. By “tragedy of the commons,” they were referring to grazing land: “free access to common grazing land drives each herdsman to maximise his own take from the commons, even when it becomes overcrowded with grazing animals.” Ultimately, this behaviour ruins the common land, as well as those who depend on it for survival, they said. The problem is clearly complicated, but their frustrations were palpable.
Another way to put this is, no one washes a rented car. This is economics 101 for free-marketers, like my self (acually, I’m a little more open-minded about smart government intervention than the dyed-in-the-wool variety). The time for creative, outside-of-the-box thinking on health and healthcare is quickly approching.