Healthcare: two megaphones

There is little actual news on the healthcare debate.  Instead, as with much of modern media, we instead simply see dueling press releases, half repeated verbatim by MSNBC and Huffington Post, and the other half repeated verbatim by Fox News and the National Review.

Lost between the two megaphones are a few simple facts, mentioned by no one.

First, US healthcare is already socialized.  Requiring businesses to provide health insurance to employees is a market-distorting government intervention, functionally identical to a healthcare tax, except that coverage is less universal.  Free marketeers thus have little cause to argue against change — we would merely move from one socialist scheme to another one.  Free markets lost this fight in the 1960’s, so why argue for the status quo now?

Second, the Administration’s argument for a “keep-them-honest” public health insurer is based on the unproven assumption that existing health insurers are not competing.  Is that really true?  Why?  No one has explained this.  If health insurers are already free to compete for business, why are costs rising at quintuple the inflation rate?  Collusion?  That’s a problem we can attack through existing regulatory structures, not a new insurer.

There is no question that the existing system does three things wrong:

  • Fails to independently measure and publicize the ROI (return on investment) of preventive medicine and lifestyle changes.
  • Fails to provide high-ROI medicine to the uninsured population, which would be cheaper than fixing the same population’s acute problems later at charity hospitals.
  • Fails to measure and publicize the ROI (positive or negative) of using expensive patented drugs and devices instead of cheap generic drugs and devices.

In short, the problem is a lack of transparency.  Sound familiar?

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