Monday, June 21, 2004

Cynthia, Free Markets Would Make Health Care Less Expensive

Cynthia Tucker, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's editorial page editor, recently wrote an article claiming that free markets make health care expensive. She states:

In a country where capitalism is the state religion, it's hard to get people to admit that the profit motive doesn't improve every enterprise. Americans seem to think there is no problem that cannot be solved by some resourceful entrepreneur. But we're experiencing a crisis of faith in at least one area -- health care. The soaring cost of hospitals and medicines suggests that capitalism is sometimes at odds with the common good."

This is why liberals don't excel in economics. She supports universal health care, but ignores the huge crunches that systems in Canada and France are currently facing (never mind less access to the latest health advances like in USA). With USA's high obesity rate, we can expect even worse. Tucker ignores that when government got even more involved in health care in the 1980s (giving us HMOs), supposedly to reduce costs, instead the costs shot up. She willfully ignores some facts: One, the American Medical Association works with state legislatures to limit doctors' licenses. Fewer doctors means higher doctor salaries, which means higher prices for us. Two, malpractice insurance has gotten way out of control and tort reform is needed here. Three, doctors receive almost the same training whether they want to fix broken bones or do neurosurgery, which jacks up prices for all specialties. Four, insurance companies are forbidden by law from charging fat people more money, even though they are mainly responsible for USA's health problems. This is a penalty on people who take care of our bodies, while overweight people don't pay the full costs of their choices.

A free market would induce more folks to be more preventative about their health choices or face higher premiums. Until government gets out of health care, consumers can't use their dollars to shop around for the best deals and that hurts us all.


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