Monday, July 11, 2011

Libertarian Solution to Health Care

Capitalism does not happen in a vacuum. Its participants are comprised of real human beings. They have empathy for one another. (Therefore, the profit motive is tempered by moral conscience.)

[Reference at bottom of page. "Royden" is a commenter who posted in The American Conservative blog.]


Royden told us about his father who "charged $4.00 for an office visit and $5.00 for a house call. Patients that were poor were treated for free. He didn’t use a collection agency and kept his own books and medical records with the help of two nurses."

"This is how things worked before the subsidization of medicine by the government destroyed the pricing mechanism. Who says the free market can’t work for medicine?"


Today, we have "corporate medicine." It isn't free market anymore. Monopolies dominate; prices are high; competition is squelched; insurance dictates.

The provider-side of healthcare is profited by the stringent licensing laws, the compliant medical boards, and the blessings of patent protection. These government regulations help to ensure tenure for the players within a monopolistic framework.

The American citizen is a serf of the insurance agency that rations care. The doctor has less of an interest in serving the patient's needs and more of an interest to engage the insurance company that pays the bill. (In some cases, this engagement with the insurance agency [like Medicare] involves fraud.)

Whether we are talking about private insurance or government Medicare, this type of setup undermines the doctor-patient relationship. The pricing mechanism gets distorted. There isn't any "skin in the game." Thus, the patient does not have any discipline to pay attention to prices or to stop wasteful practices.

The insurance industry is a de facto government. The premiums are like taxes. The policy holder is then governed by the insurance company (regarding that person's healthcare). It is the entity that negotiates prices and rations care -- just like the government!

But there are differences. The insurance company is answerable to its shareholders. The government is answerable to its citizenry.

So what is the libertarian solution? Get the American people away from its dependence on insurance for routine care! We need to be in charge of our own health-care again. This will be liberating, not only for the patient, but also for the doctor.

The purpose of insurance is for catastrophe. For example, when we purchase auto insurance, do we expect it to pay for the gasoline we put into our cars? Of course not! The insurance is for accident coverage, not fuel coverage. (Nor do we use insurance for routine auto repairs, either.)

This popularity of insurance for routine health-care fosters a welfare mentality. We expect "free" doctor visits and "free" drugs. The premiums are expensive because of this scenario. Likewise, in a welfare state, taxes are high for the same reason.


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