Megan McArdle, in a post analyzing why Groupons do or don't work (did you know that Groupons are sometimes used for promotional purposes rather than giving you deep, deep savings, just like most coupons ever?), says the following:


Take a look at the other deals which are available to me on Groupon today: [...]

  • $2,500 for LASIK Surgery for Both Eyes at LasikPro ($5,000 Value) [...]

The Lasik is almost certainly a "raise prices and discount" situation--you have no idea what their normal price is.  Even so, who wants discount eye surgery?  (11 people, apparently.  Good luck with that).

Basic question: if healthcare works as a free market commodity, why does McArdle respond with trepidation to the idea of discount surgery?  If health care consumers are supposed to be discerning, savvy consumers, then discount surgery should be a market option.  (This isn't even to mention the secondary issue that LASIK coupons can be found in virtually every alt newsweekly in existence.)

The entire purpose of not socializing healthcare, by which we mean something Obama something, is that the healthcare market should work by good old-fashioned capitalist principles.  Groupons for surgery are a good thing, right?  You research that center, see if it does good work, and look at the comparative prices and quality of its competitors.  It's elective surgery, for Pete's sake - if comparison shopping and discounts are reflexively terrible ideas when it comes to a completely voluntary procedure, how is it ever supposed to work when you have a faulty heart valve or a broken leg?  

Unless, you know, it's just a remarkably stupid idea that ignores everything about how we actually consume healthcare.  But that can't be the case, obviously.  It's probably just us being squicky about eyes.  And the rest of our bodies.