What does the fable of the dog and his bone have to do with health care reform?

First, the fable, as recounted by Thomas Sowell:

The dog looked down into the water and saw his reflection. He thought it was another dog with a bone in his mouth– and it seemed to him that the other dog’s bone was bigger than his. He decided that he was going to take the other dog’s bone away and opened his mouth to attack. The result was that his own bone fell into the water and was lost.


Sowell’s analogy: The President of the United States, in his calls for a drastic overhaul of the health care system, is really urging us collectively to take away the other person’s bone:


Whether we are supposed to take that bone away from the doctors, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical companies or the insurance companies, the net result is likely to be the same– most of us will end up with worse medical care than we have available today. We will have opened our mouth and dropped a very big bone into the water.


Sowell also recalls living in the era before health insurance was simply a given for middle class people:

As someone who lived through that era, and who spent decades without medical insurance, I find it hard to be panicked and stampeded into bigger and worse problems because some people do not have medical insurance, including many who could afford it if they chose to.

What did we do, back during the years when most Americans had no medical insurance? I did what most people did. I depended on a “single payer”– myself. When I didn’t have the money, I paid off my medical bills in installments.

The birth of my first child was not covered by medical insurance. I paid off the bill, month by month, until the time finally came when I could tell my wife that the baby was now ours, free and clear.

We’re not going back to that time, but it’s instructive to recall it—and maybe we should ask if health care insurance, used in the way we use it today, for routine doctor visits,  isn’t one reason costs are so astronomical?