The Market Will Produce a “Comfortable Default”

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Fred Schwarz makes a point that unfortunately appears to be accurate:

One reason that conservative health-care schemes are less popular than we’d like is this: They assume that what Americans want is choices, when in fact what most Americans want is a comfortable default. The same goes for school choice, even in otherwise conservative areas. New York City has a vast number of options for schooling your kids — large, small, public, private, parochial — and I have yet to meet parents who consider it anything but a burden. Customizing health insurance and education options is like customizing Microsoft Word — yes, that little elevated “th” every time you type an ordinal number is annoying, but hardly anyone bothers to fix it. That’s why people say they like their employer-provided health insurance: It’s not because of the benefit structure or the customer service, but because you don’t have to do anything to get it; it’s just there.

There are caveats.  As I’ve written before, the availability of school choice in Vermont is associated with higher property values, for example.  We shouldn’t be surprised if New York City is a somewhat unique circumstance; throughout most of the country, the options will be more manageable than in the most bustling metropolis on the planet.

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Similarly, support for conservative health care policies might improve if they’re explained (accurately) as allowing for just the “comfortable default” that people tend to want.  That’s the beauty of conservative reliance on the market.  Policy wonks may make the public feel like they’d be facing an incomprehensible maze of options, because that’s what excites wonks, policy but in the absence of overwhelming government regulation, the market will provide simple options, too.



  • guest

    “school choice in Vermont is associated with higher property values, for
    example. We shouldn’t be surprised if New York City is a somewhat
    unique circumstance”…and rural Vermont is not?

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