Healthcare Reform and "Emotional Economics"
Debate over health care reform in the United States can be approached from various theoretical frameworks. Economists tend to frame arguments for government intervention on the “externalities” associated with health care, or, the benefits to society as a whole that are not captured in the market. These externalities range in nature from what could be considered practical (lower rates of communicable disease, greater mobility in the labour market) to emotional (feelings of satisfaction that members of society are given care when it is needed). Recently, the public exchange about the role of government in healthcare has featured emotionally charged language suggesting current tensions between and amongst nations on this issue may be related to externalities that involve some emotional component.
Sarah Palin was quoted by CNN describing the Obama administration’s proposed public health insurance scheme as “evil” and resulting in “death panels” while Newt Gingrich said British health care “was run by ‘Orwellian’ bureaucrats who put a price tag on life.”
Such characterization of the NHS in the American debate has provoked a response from British politicians across the political spectrum. The BBC reported a Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, was described as “unpatriotic” by Health Secretary Andy Burnham after attacking the NHS on American media and “eccentric” by the leader of his own party, David Cameron. Labour Party member and Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacted by posting his support for NHS on the 10 Downing Street Twitter site.
Health, Government and Irving Fisher by Victor R. Fuchs in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology