Saturday, June 30, 2007

Over on Youtube, andyj2287 asked the following:

My only question for him is how will his privatized health care system function differently than what we have now. HMO's are ruining the American economy while we have almost every other Western nation providing national health are to its citizens.

How would the incentive structure in such a way as to make people more healthy for less money, instead of trying to bilk money out of an increasingly sicker American public and trying to provide as little service as possible.

Well, we do NOT have a free market in medicine right now. FDA regulation of prescription drugs makes the price of bringing new drugs (and new applications of old drugs) to market makes it so only the most massive of corporations can afford to sell pharmaceuticals. By reducing the scope of the FDA to it's original scope, simply ensuring that the contents of the packaging match the label, enormous competition would be (re)introduced to the pharmaceuticals industry, reducing prices drastically.

In addition, the model where businesses buy health care services and distribute them to employees is also an artifact of government regulation (specifically wage controls during WWII, which lead employers to offer health benefits to compensate for not being allowed to pay people as much as they wanted to). Remove government rules that force all medical care through employers, and the power of consumers to choose from whom they purchase service, and on what terms they choose to pay, would reduce costs, as well as restructuring the medical system to the benefit of patients, rather than corporations trying to just barely meet government requirements.

Finally, there is currently an anticompetitive cartel, protected by the government, that is in control of almost all medical care in this country. Remove that government protection, and AMA certified MDs would soon find themselves in competition not only with a few wacko alternative healers, but medical practitioners of varying levels of training. Nurses would be freed from having to be overseen by an MD, and would be able to do the simple stuff for cheap. Fully trained doctors, having less to do, would have to compete more fully for patronage from people needing more complex medical care.

Simply put, a free market in medicine would work now. A free market in medicine is NOT to be confused with the status quo.

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