Category Archives: Milton Friedman

How Did It Ever Come To Be That You Get Your Healthcare Through Your Employer?

The late Milton Friedman explains this quite well:

“We have become so accustomed to employer-provided medical care that we regard it as part of the natural order. Yet it is thoroughly illogical.  Why single out medical care?  Food is more essential to life than medical care.  Why not exempt the cost of food from taxes if provided by the employer?  Why not return to the much-reviled company store when workers were in effect paid in kind rather than in cash?

The revival of the company store for medicine has less to do with logic than pure chance.  It is a wonderful example of how one bad government policy leads to another.  During World War II, the government financed much wartime spending by printing money while, at the same time. Imposing wage and price controls.  The resulting repressed inflation produced shortages of many goods and services, including labor.  Firms competing to acquire labor at government-controlled wages started to offer medical care as a fringe benefit.  That benefit proved particularly attractive to workers and spread rapidly.”

Pay particular attention to Friedman’s point that printing money and imposing price controls caused shortages.  Why is that?   If you don’t know, it is my hope that if you’re reading these short posts for awhile, in time, such will be second nature.

H/T The Nullspace

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Filed under Business, Economic Science, Economics, Government, Human Nature, Milton Friedman, Pay, Politics, Work