Cheap college and healthcare might be better than free

Psychologically, people often value something more, and use it better, when it costs a pittance rather than actually being free (in which case people often have an exploitative or throwaway attitude.)

Granted, “I support $100-per-credit-hour tuition” doesn’t have the same ring as “Free college for all,” nor does “$25-deductible-per-visit healthcare” sound as inspiring as “Free healthcare for all,” but would a modest cost be better than free?

  1. It deters abuse or exploitation;

  2. It provides some modest financial support of the system;

  3. People won’t take it as lightly.

I agree. Totally free is a bad idea. But OTOH, sending young people into deep debt is a worse idea.

I’d say make Community College so damn cheap it’s almsot free- and it already is that way in many places. Make State colleges affordable to someone working PT at minimum wage.

Say, $1000 a quarter? Plus books, of course.

Except free education is free only in the sense you don’t pay tuition. But there are substantial opportunity costs, of which the most obvious is that you give up earning capacity, and you give up a good deal of free time that could be devoted to leisure or recreation, and devote it to reading and writing instead.

So, yeah, I don’t think people enter third-level education unless they are reasonably highly motivated, and are not going to have an exploitative or throwaway attitude. Or, we could adopt measures other than the fairly scattergun one of charging tuition fees to weed out those with an expl. or thrwy. attitude.

As for healthcare, since receiving healthcare is basically unpleasant I think you’ll have less of a problem here. Obviously there are people who aren’t ill and who take up time at GP practices and there needs to be some way of weeding them out, but charging fees is not very efficient - it won’t weed out those who can afford to pay, and are happy to pay, for whatever it is they seek from doctors which is not medically-driven, while it will weed out the genuinely ill who have no money. So, again, I think you need to find an entry barrier which is better directed towards the problem you are seeking to solve than “have you any money?”

Very true. Free quite often means worthless.

I would think any sort of “free college” scheme in the US would have to come with some sort of academic strings attached beyond the bare minimum admissions standards. The US post-secondary education system is perfectly willing to let people with mediocre grades and test scores take out loans or spend their parents’ money to do a year or two of college before dropping out, but that wouldn’t really be sustainable with a public-funded system.

Most countries with universal free post-secondary education make it much more difficult to get into university in the first place. Kids who spent most of the end of their secondary school careers fretting over some terrifying college entrance exam definitely don’t take their “free” college for granted!

Yes, but, say, Finland, doesn’t have the same racial history of America. Making admission academically even tougher would probably leave some U.S. minorities behind. It would be a ferocious political battle.

I deny your major.

Would you apply this standard to voting? Hey, just a low poll tax, where’s the harm?

How about freedom of movement? Set up a toll system, so pedestrians have to pay a penny per block of movement.

How about low tuition for public high school? Or elementary school? Or kindergarten?

No, this is a silly idea, at least for education.

We already have low co-pays for some Medicaid services. But a person with low income or no income may hate paying even a co-pay of $1.50. Things like flu shots are gratis, and should be.

For university? Society’s need for educated persons is greater than students’ overall desire to be educated at their own expense; and greater than the demand the market will have for them after they graduate. Most college grads will not become rich.

Nominal fees won’t allow under-performing students to pay their way in. If you cut the cost per student down to a nominal fee, you’re already mostly funding it from non-tuition sources, and you probably already have to start screening students in some other way.

High-performing students already get scholarships. Poor students can get grants. So tuition looks like a rip-off of mediocre middle-income students, who are not so high-performing as to get scholarships, not so poor as to get a full subsidy, and not so rich that they’d pay more in taxes in a tuition-free system.

I thought one of the Scandinavian countries did this with health care. They have a nominal copay to discourage over utilization. It is nominal, something like $20 and I’m sure you can get exceptions if you are poor but that was their thinking that this will discourage people going to get too much medical care.

However, most systems do not have copay or user fees and their systems are Still cheap. So with or without a nominal copay, the costs end up being about the same.

Kids are still going to have to pay for textbooks and things. Have you seen the price of college textbooks? It’s more than enough to weed out people who don’t actually want to be there.

I know 40somethings who are still “students” so you’re pretty damn wrong here.

When I was in high school - and when my mother was in high school, the City University of New York was free. My mother and thousands or tens of thousands of her generation went to college that would have been closed to them without CUNY. Lots of universities in Europe are free or very cheap. My daughter got a Masters in International Business in Germany for a pittance.
It is still a good idea with rigorous admissions standards for the better schools and a requirement that students make progress. There is a downside - I know kids who enrolled in Community College (not free, but cheap) just so they could be covered on their parents’ health insurance. No longer an issue thanks to ACA, but they clogged up classes for no reason.