Uncertainty: The Similarity Between the Financial Markets and Health Care

Wendy Lynch

First posted 8/18/11 on the HCMS Blog

A question: Does uncertainty in medicine mean consumers should be more or less involved in choices?

As the country watched wild swings in the stock market these past weeks, every investor faced unfortunate hindsight: if only I had cashed out at 12,500! Combined with the pain of continued uncertainty, many investors decided to remove their (remaining) funds simply to stop the discomfort of an unknown future.

While we all dread the anguish of downward market fluctuations and wonder daily what it is store for our dwindling nest eggs, no one can change the fundamental truths of investing: risk and uncertainty.  Yes, experts can advise us and help us assess varying degrees of risk among options, but no one can guarantee the success of our investment decisions, no matter how well informed.

If the world of financial markets is this uncertain, should investors be less involved in the decisions about where they place their money and how much risk they assume?   One could easily argue that the average investor is not capable of making good decisions.  So, should we all find a seasoned stock broker to make decisions for us, independent of our personal circumstances and preferences? After all, they are the experts—right?

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