“Nobody is talking about a free-market approach in health care. The spectrum today is between fascism and Communism.”
The Pacific Research Institute’s John Graham offered this glum assessment during a brief chat recently when he came to Washington, DC for a meeting. He points out that the focus of health care policy is on how to get to “universal coverage.” In this context, the conservative approach involves mandatory health insurance. The liberal approach involves expanding government coverage. Hence, it is either fascism or Communism.
An interesting article that goes to the heart of the universal coverage debate but it ignores the biggest health care problem, rising health care costs. “Universal coverage” and mandatory health insurance are health care supply issues and I just do not see these issues as the biggest problem. It is my belief that we will not make progress toward better health care until we get smarter about managing the demand for these programs. From an economic perspective the biggest problem is that there is too much demand for health care services. There are a variety of easy to see symptoms such as obesity and drugs. It is easy to be critical of something as simple as obesity but it is at the core of several of our health problems and we are doing little to control it. Then there are the ads for drugs on television. We are constantly being bombarded with ads to fix symptoms I never knew were a problem. It seems we have drugs for everything. Despite Roger Moore’s allegations that the health insurance industry is at the root of the health care problem, “someone” has to restrict the health care demand and tell the patient/doctor there is a better way. Sixteen years ago when my son was born I was amazed at how clueless doctors were at billing and understanding the health care cost issues. Doctors have become more knowledgeable about cost issues over the years but they still have a long way to go. Although I do not think the doctors and the health insurance industry has done a particularly good job at managing the health care cost issues, I have slightly more faith in their existing partnership than a partnership with a newly created government bureaucracy.