3) Free-market health care reform can and does work
In the freest sectors of medicine such as LASIK eye surgery, we see the classic pattern of falling prices and rising quality that we take for granted with cell phones and computers. This could be the norm in all of medicine if we adopted free-market reforms. Some examples include allowing patients to purchase insurance across state lines and using Health Savings Accounts for routine expenses. Insurers should be allowed to sell inexpensive, catastrophe-only policies to cover rare but expensive events. States should repeal laws that force insurers to offer (and patients to purchase) unwanted “mandatory benefits” such as in vitro fertilization coverage. Such reforms could reduce insurance costs by over 50% and make insurance available to millions who cannot currently afford it, while respecting individual rights.
According to a recent CNN poll, 8 out of 10 Americans are generally happy with their current health care. But they are legitimately concerned about rising costs. Furthermore, the constant media drumbeat about our health care “crisis” is making most Americans think that everybody else is having a rough time with health care (even if they themselves are doing relatively well). This fuels the false perception that we need drastic change in the form of government-managed “universal health care.” In fact, the opposite is true. If Americans are satisfied with their health care quality but unhappy with rising costs, then the proper course is free-market reforms that lower costs, preserve quality, and respect individual rights.
Americans have already been burned by the congressional rush to pass the “stimulus” bill, which many legislators now acknowledge that they didn’t even read before voting for. Congress should not make the same mistake by rushing to pass “universal health care” legislation. Instead, Congress should slow down, take a deep breath, and engage in a full, honest discussion about the kinds of genuine reforms we need to actually correct our current problems.
As a practicing physician, I fully support health care reform. This is precisely why I oppose government-run universal health care. Our relatively free market has done a magnificent job in providing us with necessities such as food and shelter. It’s time we let it work for health care as well.