April 2008 Vol. 106 No. 6 THE REVIEW

Hyman: Medicare Meets Mephistopheles

Jill R. Horwitz

The Virtues of Medicare

Medicare Meets Mephistopheles. By David A. Hyman. Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute. 2006. Pp. xviii, 138. Cloth, $14.95; paper $9.95.

Most of us look forward to a heaven where people don’t get sick. But if they do, health care would be traded among fully informed patients and providers in perfectly competitive and frictionless markets. In that perfect world, sick citizens simply shop for doctors the way they shop for other consumer goods. The better doctors, like the most elegant hotel rooms and fanciest cars, would cost more than inferior doctors. Patients would consult their utility meters and, with appropriate attention to discounting over an infinite lifetime, choose accordingly. After each treatment, the patients would know the quality of their outcome and would accurately tell their friends in heaven whether they got a good deal on their appendectomy, bypass surgery, or what have you.

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