I’m going to keep this short and simple so that everyone gets it. The Health Care system is NOT and CANNOT be a free market system.
Some ‘conservatives’ (read, pro-oligarchy folk) have tried to redefine the term ‘free market’ to mean only one that doesn’t involve “government interference.” I can’t blame them, I guess, everyone wants to make their position sound as good and as reasonable as possible.
It’s false, however.
A free market isn’t just a market lacking government regulation. Here is the ACTUAL definition: A “free market” is a market in which sellers, under no undue pressure to sell, proffer their goods/services to buyers who are under no compulsion to buy. This is critical; change any element of this formula and you are no longer talking about free market.
Health care is not (and cannot become) a free market for two reasons:
1) Supply is artificially restricted by the government and the AMA. The scarcity of medical care drives up the cost. This is completely artificial. You might say “Well, they have to! You can’t have just anyone practicing medicine!” Fine, I agree, but that means that health care CANNOT EVER be a free market, because of the artificial restriction of supply.
2) Not only is supply artificially low, but buyers are under EXTREME compulsion to buy. What, that thought never occurred to you!?!? If you need lifesaving medical care, you either get it or you die! End of story.
No free market exists in health care. And you just agreed in item one that you cannot turn it into a free market.
You could change item 1 by stripping the AMA of its ability to tell medical schools how many doctors they can graduate every year AND letting anyone sell medical services who wants to do so. So then you could choose between the really expensive guy who went to medical school and Joe the Plumber who sells antibiotics out of the back of his truck. This would take care of half the problem.
BUT, you can’t do anything about item 2: People will still need lifesaving care and as long as it is a LIFE OR DEATH NEED, the medical health care system will NEVER follow free market rules.
Sometimes people say, “yeah but we need food, too! And you don’t want the government regulating that.” Food has multiple sources and you can even grow your own, so supply isn’t artificially limited as it is with healthcare. And even so, the government does, in fact, regulate prices through farm subsidies and other methods. We have a cheap food policy in the USA. Some people think that’s bad. Whatever, we need an affordable healthcare policy and it needs to be effective in balancing the artificial (but necessary) limitation on supply.
No free market in healthcare and the people who say they want a free market really don’t (they still want limited doctors, limited medicines, etc.) so what we have is a monopolistic utility, [“monopolistic” because the government & AMA tell you who can provide the services and a “utility” because consumers NEED and are compelled to buy the services from only a few government-approved providers]. As with all monopolistic utilities consumers have no choice except to pay whatever price is demanded.
Now in most other utilities, government as the representatives of the people recognizes the unfair power that the supplier has over the consumer and acts to tightly regulate pricing. For medicine, those with an agenda having NOTHING to do with anyone’s best interest are still trying to pretend that there is some kind of free market solution.
It’s bullshit. When you figure out a way we can all buy medicine from our local supermarket in the same way we buy potato chips AND you figure out a system where people are NEVER compelled to seek medical care to LIVE – THEN and only then will you have free market healthcare.
The rest is all pure phony bullshit spewed by people who only care about profit-taking for the super rich and don’t give a shit about the average person. It’s a fact, and I just proved it!
Some probably-paid talk show callers have been claiming expertise and saying that the problem with health care is that people get too much of it. =The solution, these ersatz listeners claim, is to get rid of medicare and all government price controls and let the “free market” decide. Yes, that’s right, people are dying every day for lack of health care – and America is the ONLY industrialized nation where that happens – and the conservative “solution” is to make health care even more expensive so that you stupid consumers won’t use it as much!!!
Look, those of you who are driven by ideology need to understand that free market rules are a bit like the laws of thermodynamics: Yes, they work – but they apply only in a vacuum, under ideal conditions that seldom exist in real life. You need to blow off the ideology and start looking at reality. We’ll all be better off if you do.