RAND Experiment II Petition
Whereas, the US now spends two trillion dollars a year on medicine, which is 16% of national income, a percentage that has doubled every thirty years, threatening to overwhelm federal taxes in thirty years and to dominate the economy in sixty years, and
Whereas, our single clearest data point regarding the marginal value of this spending, the US-funded RAND health insurance experiment, where from 1974 to 1982, 7700 subjects were randomly assigned to 3 to 5 years of free or not free medicine, found no significant evidence of a substantial health effect of more medicine, confirming the usual results of continuing aggregate health–medicine correlation studies,
We the undersigned petition the US to publicly conduct a similar experiment again soon, this time with at least ten thousand subjects treated for at least ten years, which should be feasible for a half billion dollars, or one part in forty thousand of annual medical spending. Whatever other purposes such an experiment pursues, it should try to make clear the aggregate health effects of variations in aggregate medical spending, variations induced by feasible regimes of quality control, including free patient choice induced by a varying aggregate price.
I, Robin Hanson, support this petition.
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