Is healthcare a public good?

Question: Is healthcare a public good?

Peter Thiel: I think healthcare is too important to be a public good, in a sense.  So I think that it’s too important to be left to the very incompetent government programs that we have taking care of it. 

Obviously you can debate about some kind of minimum safety net where, again, I would not differentiate healthcare and treat it in a separate category.  In the same way if someone’s starving to death, or someone didn’t have a place to live or things like that.   There’s definitely a minimum set of things we should take care of that are not that expensive.  Something like that’s probably true in healthcare, although I wouldn’t treat it as this good that’s radically separate from all kinds of other basic necessities. 

But in terms of the quality of that, I think is very, very open to debate.  My own sense is that place where the entitlements have generally gone the most wrong is with respect to middle class entitlements.  I think there’s people who are poor who are not well off. It doesn’t cost that much to have some safety net for them.  We can debate whether it’s good or bad, but it’s just not that expensive.  But I think the thing that’s really distorted things are the middle class entitlements like Medicare; Social Security for everybody; certain aspects of the education system, certain aspects of all sorts of other things the government’s doing.

Recorded on: Sep 05, 2007

Health care is too much of a public good to be left to incompetent government programs.

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