In today’s frenzied debate over health care reform, congressional Republicans have been targeted with hysterical attacks from angry critics who accuse them of “taking away our health care.” It’s a bum rap.
The real problem is not the availability of insurance but the grotesquely-inflated cost of medical care itself. Services were once substantially affordable, with insurance for catastrophic care available to purchase at market-responsive rates. But today one needs an insurance card for everything from a runny nose to a heart transplant.
This is a direct consequence of decades of third-party payment schemes, promoted by progressive federal policy, that have disconnected consumers from cost-conscious purchasing decisions. It’s supply and demand: suppliers can and will charge whatever the market will bear and have structured their enterprises accordingly. Other causes also exist but distortion of the competitive free market is the main driver.
Clearly, a huge market exists for low-cost care but it has been systematically eclipsed by the artificially inflated one. This has destroyed incentives for entrepreneurial development and introduction of effective low-cost treatment methods. We now purchase at inflated prices because they are the only ones available. The net effect is unaffordability for patients and, increasingly, for insurers.
I, too, am angry — not at Republicans for “taking away affordable health care” but at decades of progressive tomfoolery that have already done that. Let’s place the blame where it belongs and stop hectoring the “cleanup crew,” which has inherited a revolting economic mess to fix.