Saturday, April 03, 2010

Inelastic Joints.

The New York Times has recently discovered the concept of inelasticity in the artificial joint industry.

I can only assume that they know this and simply assume that their readership is retarded, because, duh. Of course artificial joints are a total rip-job. In economics, the elasticity of a good is how widely its price can vary with no effect on its market value (price). For example, if bicycles suddenly all cost $5,000, almost no one would buy bicycles anymore. But if insulin suddenly cost $5,000, its sales would only drop a small amount because it's literally a matter of life and death for those who buy it. So it is said that insulin is inelastic.

As such, any good that is highly inelastic is going to foster corruption. If I'm the only maker of bread, and people need bread, even if I don't act like an asshole and charge $500 per loaf, my successor may discover that, regardless of what she does, people always come back. A relationship of such imbalance is never good. The buyer and the seller must both need each other.

So here we are with artificial joints. People who need them NEED them. The market is very difficult to get in to. So, we have a limited, inelastic good that because of its nature limits competition. And we are surprised that the companies suck? Seriously?

Inelasticity is merely one detail in the economic web that, in anything other than medicine, is fine. It's only once it becomes part of medicine that we have, dare I say it, a moral issue. If insulin is a necessity for life, can a society that supposedly cares about its members truly allow free-market principles keep its price high? I don't think so.

Health System Bears Cost of Implants With No Warranties (

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