Wednesday, August 19, 2009

If food were like health care

Food and health care have something in common: if you don't have access to them you die (much more immediately in the case of food). The past few days I've been trying to imagine we treated food in a similar manner to health care. This is what I have arrived at so far:
  • To be a farmer you would have to first attend an expensive graduate school, and only 43 percent of applicants would be accepted.
  • Being licensed as a farmhand in one state wouldn't guarantee you could work in another state without another license.
  • Consumers wouldn't pay for groceries directly, but rather through "food insurance".
  • Most people would get food insurance through their employer.
  • Food insurance wouldn't be just for catastrophic situations such as persistent hunger/starvation, but the overwhelming majority of food purchases.
  • While most states would allow food insurance companies to decide what types of food they will cover, other states would mandate the inclusion of items such as filet mignon and Alaskan king crab.
  • Financial incentives would exist for food insurance policyholders to shop only at grocery stores "within the network."
  • Food stamps would be replaced by government food insurance.
  • Government food insurance would pick up most costs after you've reached a certain age.
Other mental exercises: imagine what the results would be if auto insurance was subsidized through the tax code and covered routine maintenance, or home insurance covered basic repairs.

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