Free Market Not Allowed to Work

Free Market Not Allowed to Work

Democrats excel at “message discipline”—sticking to talking points whether their script is factually correct or not. Repeated often enough, the script becomes “truth.”

Democrats’ script says: “The U.S. healthcare system is broken. Free-markets didn’t work; we can’t go back to what was, even if Obamacare has problems.”

This script is on a par with campaign lies, such as “If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it,” that sold the need for government to “fix” one-sixth of the economy, even when polls showed 85% of people were satisfied with their health insurance and medical care. Now, millions of Americans have lost their private insurance because it didn’t comply with costly, unwanted Obamacare mandates. Millions have lost their doctors and hospitals with networks “shrunk” to cut insurers’ costs.

The entire U.S. healthcare system is NOT “broken”—not yet. The payment system was “broken” by government intrusion and regulation. U.S. medical care has remained tops in the world for quality, accessibility, innovation, variety of medications, available diagnostic and treatment procedures, and longevity for the major diseases and for cancer survival.

“Free markets” in U.S. medical care and sale of health insurance have not been allowed to operate since the 1940s when the World War II federally mandated freeze on wages and scarce labor led to creative employers offering health insurance as a “benefit” to attract needed employees. More people got health insurance through jobs, and didn’t experience the true cost of medical services as they do in a free market.

“Free markets” in medical services were eroded further by passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 that put the federal government in charge of setting prices (“allowable charges”), deciding payments to physicians and hospitals, and determining “covered” services.

Later, state governments piled on regulations, mandating benefits that people didn’t freely choose to buy, limiting insurance carriers operating in the state, and blocking competition through “certificate of need” requirements for new facilities.

Physicians and patients could no longer determine value through voluntary price signals. Choices of tests and treatments were restricted.

Without honest, transparent prices and freedom of choice, there is NO free market.

Costs of medical services and health insurance policies rose dramatically, greatly distorted by the heavy hands of state and federal regulators. Heavy administrative “compliance” burdens added greatly to higher costs.

Free markets are not “unshackled,” as liberals claim. The natural regulatory mechanism takes quick corrective action in markets that are voluntary. Buyers refuse to purchase over-priced products that don’t meet their needs, and sellers either fix the problems or go out of business. Businesses change quickly to avoid losing money.

Government, however, does not go out of business. Bureaucrats don’t mind wasting YOUR money. Failed programs keep getting more money. Rarely are they cancelled. It is hard to boot politicians out of office.

Who benefits from big government? Bureaucrats, lobbyists, and wealthy special interests. Others who benefit: 26-year-old “children” on their parents’ policy and people who receive taxpayer-funded subsidies to buy insurance. Taxpayers are paying double, since government first takes its cut from the “invisible man,” in order to give subsidies to highly publicized beneficiaries.

Taking from one group to benefit other people is redistribution, not reform. Redistribution is a zero-sum game. Wins for the chosen few are always less than the losses to the rest of us.

Free markets are a “win-win,” benefiting all who participate because individuals make voluntary choices.

Obamacare does not “use” the free market. It cripples further whatever market still exists, loading on more force, more coercion, more penalties, more busywork, more cost. It outlaws true insurance, like for your home or car for major, unforeseen risks.

Except those political allies given waivers, Obamacare requires everybody to join a third-party pre-payment plan with bureaucrats deciding what is “reimbursed.” This is exactly the type of “broken” payment system that has caused so many problems in the first place!

When someone else pays for your medical care, they decide what you get. This is Obamacare’s fundamental flaw: government bureaucrats are in control, not patients or doctors.

True reform puts real free markets back to work and patients back in control of their money, their insurance plans, and their choice of physicians and hospitals.

Written by 

Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. is a preventive and climacteric medicine specialist and President of International Health Strategies, Ltd. Dr. Vliet received her M.D. degree and internship in Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, then completed specialty training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Vliet is a Director of the Association of American Physicians.

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