Friday, May 13, 2011

The Oligopolies of Education and Healthcare

The oligopolies within healthcare -- hospitals, drug companies, and insurance -- are analogous to the teachers' unions. They resist competition. With their power and influence, they use the Federal Government to help maintain their monopoly status.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has succeeded in having gotten the Obamacare law to severely restrict the operation and construction of physician-owned hospitals within the communities. Likewise, the teachers' unions have been lobbying against charter schools from being able to operate within their turf.

Yet for the consumer, higher satisfaction ratings have been expressed for the smaller physician-owned hospitals (vs. the giant corporate hospitals) and for the charter schools (vs. the traditional public schools). The oligarchs oppose capitalism because they hate competition.

The drug companies also want to maintain their monopoly status. The Obamacare law includes the provision to continue the ban on prescription drugs from Canada. The law also includes the deal to provide seniors on Medicare Part D with subsidies for brand name drugs, not the cheaper generics.

The oligarchy of healthcare providers fosters the American people's dependence on comprehensive insurance for routine care. With an oligopoly thwarting competition, prices are sky-high. The consumer then cedes power to the insurance company who'll make decisions on his/her behalf -- negotiating prices with the providers and deciding whether or not to provide care.

Just as parents who want better education at lower prices (and want charter schools in their neighborhoods) ... we healthcare consumers must demand the allowance of charter hospitals (like doctor-owned hospitals), charter healthcare clinics (which accept cash payments from the uninsured), and a stronger voice of our own regarding healthcare reform.

President Obama had broken his promise to conduct the negotiating and crafting of healthcare reform in an atmosphere of transparency (and be broadcast live on C-span). He instead did it behind closed doors; the participants were the oligarchs of the healthcare industry.

By the way, read the article about the education monopoly, the teachers' unions, the resistance to true reform, etc. in the latest Atlantic magazine.

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