John Stossel

Insurance invites waste. That's a reason health care costs so much, and is often so consumer-unfriendly. In the few areas where there are free markets in health care -- such as cosmetic medicine and LASIK eye surgery -- customer service is great, and prices continue to drop.

The ABC News poll suggests that people understand that. When asked about "consumer-directed plans," "nearly eight in 10 Americans think that allowing people to shop around for their own medical care would be an effective way to control costs." But many people still want a free lunch: "consumer-driven care looks less popular if it's accompanied by the risk of higher out-of-pocket expenses."

Somehow people seem to believe "insured" means free.

This is not to say that we don't need insurance. We need it to protect us against financial catastrophes that could result from a stroke or heart attack. That's why Health Savings Accounts, which cover smaller out-of-pocket health expenditures, are paired with high-deductible catastrophic insurance. That's a good thing.

But America's demand that insurance cover everything from pets to dental work puts us on slide toward bankruptcy.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate