Rudy Giuliani’s Erroneous Health Care Comparisons: Health Care Is Not Like Buying a Television

Rudy Giuliani has a problem speaking about health care. He tries to speak in simple terms by making comparisons, but each time he reveals how little he really understands about the topic. Previously I showed the flaws in Giuliani’s comparison between health care and fixing one’s car or home. I’ve also shown that Giuliani is wrong when he claims that Democrats support socialized medicine. Now Giuliani thinks that paying for health care is like paying for a television:

On healthcare, Giuliani gave his most detailed answer yet explaining that he believes if market forces were allowed to function in the industry healthcare would be cheaper, more accessible, and have more quality.

“Look what happens with televisions,” Giuliani said. “At first they are really expensive and they have some flaws, but eventually they come down in price, more people can afford them, and they are of higher quality. That is how markets work.”

There is a difference between acknowledging the benefits of the free market and this type of religious adherence to it, believing that the market can fix all problems. Health care has little in common with buying televisions.

Televisions benefit from improved technology which makes sets less expensive to build. In health care, new technology typically leads to new and more expensive tests which become the standard of care.Automation of production reduces the number of people who are necessary to make television sets. Health care is labor intense, and while perhaps technology may reduce this to some degree, there will always be lots of salaries to be paid by health care facilities.

Television manufacturers first charged a fortune to affluent suckers like me, who were willing to pay thousands to have a couple of high definition television sets as soon as programming was available. Eventually there won’t be enough of us suckers left, and they will be forced to lower the price to the point where more people are able and willing to pay. People can hold off on buying the newest television sets until the price comes down.

In contrast, people are always aging and developing new medical problems, providing a steady supply of buyers for the health care system. While people might put off health care needs for a while, ultimately this becomes impossible. Many wind up going bankrupt, but they spend on health care as long as they can.

I’m sure readers can come up with many more reasons why buying a television set and paying for health care are totally different, but this isn’t really necessary. Just look at the costs. We’ve all seen television sets go down in price, but has anyone witnessed a real drop in health care costs? At one point people thought that HMO’s might be the answer, but they just led to a one time decrease, followed by the same increases in cost as were seen before. Several of the candidates are offering plans, such as better use of computerized medical records, to help reduce the costs. This will help a little, but not enough to make health care affordable for the 45 million uninsured and many more who are under insured.

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  1. 1
    Skeptic says:

    Ron, don’t you see. “Health care is like fixing your car.” “Health care is like a television set.” Who does this remind you of? Deepak Chopra is Giuliani’s ghost writer.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    We now have Giuliani Woo

  3. 3
    R Miller says:

    Extending Guiliani’s finely crafted metaphor, is Guiliani suggesting that, like televisions, health care will ultimately become more affordable as the US health care market turns to imports?

    Moore implied such in SICKO, but his jaunt to Cuba really hacked off the conservatives.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Personally I think that Cuba trip was a mistake. It created other controversies which distracted from his message.

    As for imports, we are actually turning to exports as people go to foreign countries to have expensive procedures done at a lower cost.

    Getting back to Giuliani’s analogy–are there any television sets still made in the US? I really doubt it.

  5. 5
    R Miller says:

    Ron Chusid: “Getting back to Giuliani’s analogy–are there any television sets still made in the US? I really doubt it.”

    — Exactly!

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