Rational Capitalist on Facebook

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blame the Government, Not the Market, for Exorbitant Health-Care Costs

By Alex Epstein
September 13, 2007
Irvine, CA--The New York Times reports that employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have increased by 6.1 percent this year--not as high as last year's 7.7 percent increase, but still far ahead of wages or inflation--and that since 2001 they have increased by 78 percent.

"These statistics will be used by the advocates of collectivized medicine to say, once again, that the 'free market' has failed, and that we need some form of government-controlled 'universal health care' scheme," said Alex Epstein, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. "But the truth is the opposite. These skyrocketing premiums are testament to the huge destruction that the government's massive control of healthcare to date has already wrought.

"Health-care is one of America's most controlled and socialized industries--beginning with the fact that we are all forced to pay for one another's health-care through Medicare and the government-induced third-party-payer system. In the name of the individual's 'right' to health-care and the government's 'responsibility' to provide it, the government has reached its tentacles into every facet of medicine, from how many doctors are allowed to be licensed to which medical professionals may perform what procedures, to what procedures insurance companies must provide on their plans. Is it any wonder that health-care is a mess?

"Observe that in the fields that are left free, like the computer and electronics industries, over time the cost of any given product generally goes down, not up. If medicine were left free, with individuals responsible for paying for their own care and insurance, and America's businessmen, doctors, and educators liberated to offer it at all different price points, we would see quality and price improvements like those for flat-panel television sets. Indeed, we already see this with the few realms of medicine that are left free; laser eye surgery, for example, has improved dramatically over the years while prices have fallen. We could see such developments with medical care as a whole--as soon as we agree to take responsibility for our own health, and get the government out of it."


brian said...

Isn't the key here that most people living in the U.S. (and all industrialized nations) cannot tolerate other citizens, especially children, dieing without health care? Most people can tolerate citizens not having a plasma TV or lasik surgery (Viagra being a gray area).I don't understand how you can compare the two.

I know that this is a Judea-Christian-Muslim-Hindu-etc. value that is based in mysticism, but most Americans subscribe to altruism, even atheists.

As long as this is the case (and will you admit that it is?), it makes no sense to pretend that the free market can better service our health care. A small child with a strange freckle who cannot afford to have it autopsied, will have taxpayers pay for it when it is cancer and life threatening.

Like it or not, our health care is the most expensive in the world because it is not universal. And yes that does mean that the government can ask you to take better care of yourself (the horrors).

How about this contrast; Citizens can not tolerate people starving, so we all pay for poor people to eat. The freckle/cancer anecdote does not apply...thus food prices have not gone through the roof like health care.

brian said...

OK, someone debate this with me. I have to put up with laizes-faire capitalists explaining how stupid I am that I can't understand the efficiencies of the free market but I insist that Iphones and Tv's have a fundamental difference from symptoms and early detection, preventive care. What in the free market has the same relationship?