Like masks, vaccination creates “positive externalities.” If lots of people resist vaccination, that hurts the rest of us, who might catch the disease from them, writes William Watson in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article which can be read in full here.
By William Watson, December 1, 2020
If you want to gather in large groups with like-minded folk, whether to praise your Lord or to drink and seek dates, or maybe in the trendier post-modern churches to do both at once, fine. But if you do, how about you pay for your own health care?
In fact, if we did have private health care, insurance companies could take over COVID policing. As with good-driver discounts, if you could show you wear a mask in all the right places — and advanced surveillance capitalism surely could help you prove that — then you could get a discount on your premium, while if the insurance company could prove you have been flouting commonsensical precautions, too bad for you: your COVID coverage is cancelled. That would be a safety-compatible incentive.
Plus, it would be enforced. Police sometimes show what seems like excessive deference in confronting violators of various laws. But when has an insurance company ever backed off or taken the humane approach?
You might think the advent of a vaccine would mean the end of the mask debate. But we’re about to go through it all again. Like masks, vaccination creates “positive externalities.” If lots of people resist vaccination, that hurts the rest of us, who might catch the disease from them. How do we persuade them to become part of herd immunity? Don’t charge for vaccination, is one obvious measure. Make it easy to get is another. Should we go farther and pay people to get vaccinated? The U.K. government reportedly is looking at “immunity passports,” which will be needed in different social situations. It’s easy to imagine that in order to travel internationally in 2021 you’ll need evidence of vaccination.
What’s your COVID policy preference? Carrot, stick or sledge-hammer?