Greg Mankiw picks up on Kathleen Sebelius decrying "skimpy" health insurance and snarks:

I have the same problem with my other insurance policies. My homeowner insurance doesn’t cover the cost when my gutters need cleaning, and my car insurance doesn’t cover the cost when I need to fill the tank with gas. Instead, the policies cover only catastrophic events, like my house burning down or a major accident. Now that the Obama administration has fixed the health insurance system, I trust they will soon move on to solve these other problems.

Here’s what Prof. Mankiw is missing: let’s say increasingly clogged gutters are a fire risk. Let’s say that, as is usually the case, when your house bursts into flames a) your neighbors are at risk, and b) the public has to pick up the tab of sending fire trucks to your house. Not to mention your insurance company now having to pick up the tab because they don’t have a "if you don’t clean your gutters, we don’t reimburse fire damage" clause. Now, wouldn’t it make sense for either your insurance company or the public, in that case, to provide incentives to clean your gutters? Likewise, we should incentivize people to get check-ups.

This ignores the argument that "if people are non-fatally sick they should be treated" is a distinctly different moral proposition from "if my house is dirty it should be cleaned" or "if my car is low on gas it should be refueled." That conservatives constantly equate these things is troubling.

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