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We Call It ‘Rationing,’ Obama Calls It ‘Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board’

We shouldn't let either Obama's IPAB or Congress control our health care.

by
Paul Hsieh

Bio

April 22, 2011 - 8:28 am
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Not to government central planners.

If the health insurance market were fully free (which it currently is not), insurers would be able to offer a wide range of packages varying from low-cost “catastrophic only” plans to expensive “gold-plated” plans that covered experimental treatments for every rare disease, and everything in-between. Similarly, patients would be free to decide whether they wanted to pay higher premiums while still healthy for guaranteed access to unusual expensive treatments if they needed it later, or if they’d rather save that money for more important life priorities (such as buying a new house or saving for their children’s education) in exchange for forgoing such costly end-of-life care that might only gain them a few additional weeks of life.

In a fully free market for health insurance, everyone would be free to purchase whatever level of coverage they desired according to their best rational judgment from any willing insurer. This would allow them to join voluntary insurance risk pools with others with similar preferences without imposing their choices on others with different priorities. Individuals have the right — and the responsibility –to make these important life decisions for themselves. The government should not be making these decisions for us.

Furthermore, in a fully free market the price of advanced medical technology would quickly fall over time, just as it has with consumer technologies like cellphones and computers and with advanced medical services in the least regulated (i.e., most free) sectors of medicine such as LASIK eye surgery. This is the natural outcome of a free market, where producers survive by competing to offer consumers the best value for their money. If Americans want to guarantee long-term access to affordable life-saving medical technology, the answer is not to create government agencies like IPAB to set prices by fiat (ala the old USSR-style centrally planned economies).

The government should get out of the way and leave consumers, insurers, and providers free to seek their rational self-interest in a free market.

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Paul Hsieh, MD, is a member of the Colorado chapter of Docs4PatientCare (www.Docs4PatientCare.org) and co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (www.WeStandFIRM.org).
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