If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that healthcare should be cheaper. It’s not that healthcare is overpriced — although if you live in the U.S. you’re probably paying double anyone else in the world — but that it’s a significant cost that takes up a huge portion of our budget and it would be really nice if it were less expensive.
Also, it’s extremely overpriced.
So how do we lower healthcare costs? It’s a question that many people around the world have asked, in many different iterations. The Republican Party, in all their wisdom, have come up with an answer.
The idea is simple: let the free market handle the healthcare economy. “What’s wrong with the U.S. system is that people are tied to providers and/or insurers,” they argue . “ What we really need is a completely open market, with more choice — this system would drive healthcare costs down!”
And, of course, healthy people shouldn’t have to pay for the sick. Because no one should be forced into being empathetic and humane. If I want to let sick people die, that’s my right as a human being.
But do you know the funny thing? Turns out it’s actually cheaper for healthy people to subsidize the sick.
Free Market Madness
People who have a lot to say but almost no knowledge of healthcare markets often claim that the main problem with health spending is a lack of choice. “Make the market more free,” they say, “and cheap healthcare will magically appear.”
I’m paraphrasing — but, seriously, this is what some people believe.
There are entire libraries of books devoted to why free markets don’t automatically lead to lower healthcare spending, but, as we’ve only got a few hundred words, let’s focus here on the three big reasons.