Out of Control Policy Blog

Affordability or priorities?

When activists tell us that 40 million Americans lack health insurance we often assume that they simply can't afford coverage. Cost is often the reason people don't have coverage, but not always.

Some portion of the uninsured are between jobs and a good portion could afford coverage, but they choose to spend there money on other things instead. Young people are often slow to get medical coverage (they're not planning on getting sick), but they're quick to spend money on other things–vacations, dining out, music, clothes. Even those of modest means make similar tradeoffs (See The Myths of Rich and Poor).

No it's not as simple as prioritizing your way into coverage, but whether it's with money, time, or something else–people prioritize differently. That fact will always leave others puzzled.

Take an extreme example: Carl Cook.

He has no home. He has no car. I'm guessing he doesn't have health insurance, but he does have Clippers season tickets:

    Certainly he is among the few who spend about one-third of their incomes on tickets to basketball games. Cook, who bunks down most nights on a friend's sailboat or in a nearby laundromat, said he makes $30 to $40 a job detailing cars near Los Angeles International Airport and $10 an hour as an attendant at a Manhattan Beach carwash.

    His annual income, he said, is probably less than $10,000.

    And yet he spent about $3,300 on tickets this season, sitting floor level near the tunnel where the Clippers make their entrance.

Why does he spend so much money on the Clippers?

    "They bring me happiness."

    ...

    "He just eats, sleeps, lives Clippers," said the middle of his three sisters, Jody Cook of Oceanside. "Every time he comes to visit, he's always in a T-shirt or a sweatshirt, something Clipper-related. And whenever I talk to him, during the season or not, he talks about the Clippers.

    "I've never seen anything like him, especially to hang in there with that team, because they've not been a very successful team. ...

    "It's odd, but it's his life."

Article here.

BTW, I've hopped on the Brand Wagon. Clippers in six.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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