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Whatever Happened to the Concept of Free Market Health Care?

By Terry | free market

Recently on Quora the question was asked- Why Doesn’t the United States Provide Universal Healthcare Like Other Countries?

One person who lives in Australia provided the following answer:

“I’m in Australia, and while we are a lot better off than the USA – we DO have a free health care service – there is too little of it, too late – too many people needing to access services for which there isn’t enough funding allocated, not enough beds, not enough people employed – the health system is crumbling under the pressure and people are suffering for it. I wish there was some established standard of health care, world wide, that all health systems had to adhere to, and that health care could be accessible to every single human being as a matter of basic human rights, no matter where they were or where they came from or their capacity to pay for it.”

I find this comment interesting and flawed. The person who made the comment is obviously basing it on some unproven assumptions. She first assumes that had government acted sooner we wouldn’t have the problems in health care that we have now. Naturally, there is no consideration given to the possibility that not only is government NOT fixing the problem but quiteHealth Care Costs likely are making it worse.

Free Isn’t Free

She also assumes that she is a “whole lot better off” U.S. citizens because “we DO have a free health care service.” Free? Really? So nobody performing the service receives compensation for their labor?

Oh……..they do? Ever thought about how the workers in health care derive incomes? Think the source may come from the government perchance? Where do you suppose the government which produces nothing but regulatory control gets their money? Three basic sources: taxation (including licensing fees), central bank money printing (the primary source) and regulatory fines. Ultimately, however, the people pay the costs of government one way or another. Either through taxes, fines, fees or the increased costs of inflation.

So then, how in fact can government insurance be considered “free”?

Hint: It isn’t. Most folks simply aren’t sensible enough to recognize that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Other citizens (particularly those working and earning money) are paying for this so-called “free” healthcare.

Now, if you consider the necessary increased taxation, fees and regulations, inflationary pressure driving costs up from increased debt and the immorality of legalized theft better off, perhaps you need a better concept of what it means to actually be a free born person. Personally, being a wage slave and having half of your income siphoned off for an arbitrary benefit that government decides how to distribute is not my idea of free.

I earn. They take. They decide where and how much of the fruits of my labor belongs to them before I get any of it. Not my idea of “better off”. Personally, it feels like I am a subject of the State,  and most certainly not free.

However, that aside, let’s get back to the consideration that government rather than fixing the healthcare marketplace is in actuality making it worse.

Frankly, the reality is that nearly everything which governments get involved in seems to decline in quality of service or good and rise in price.

Medicare for example is for all intents and purposes broke and getting broker. Totally, a government run program it has escalated in both regulatory control and price. More on this later in this article. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Medicare is failing.

Medicare Fraud

As an example of how well government serves as a custodian of markets, I point to the multi-billion $ scams that criminals are running using Medicare as the payoff faucet. Not only is the Medicare scamming very profitable for the scammers but it is also easier and less dangerous. According to the 60 Minutes report, Medicare fraud has replaced drugs as the #1 criminal pursuit in Florida thanks to the ease with which criminals can penetrate the great government regulatory system.

Medicare Broke As Well?

We already know that Medicare is a scam target but how profitable is it? After all, any ongoing service needs to produce some kind of profit doesn’t it in order to provide an income to those who perform the labor right? Even non-profits need to make some kind of profit to share with the workers who produce results who need to feed themselves and live.

Fortunately, according to the trustees for Medicare, the system will not be broke until 2024. I suppose that is the good news but it is not very encouraging for those currently paying into the system in their early 50’s.

Also noted in the 2008 report summary:

“Projected long-run program costs for both Medicare and Social Security are not sustainable under currently scheduled financing, and will require legislative corrections if disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers are to be avoided.”

They are not sustainable because Medicare is being funded by younger workers. Baby boomers who made up the bulk of the working marketplace for many years are reaching retirement age in growing numbers. Mathematically this means that as the millions of baby boomers retire there will be less younger workers to fund them.

According to a 2008 Trustees report the unfunded liability (expected future payments) for Medicare is $74 Trillion or 5 times that of Social Security. Since our current national debt is sitting at nearly $18.8 Trillion or over $58,000 per man, woman and child that is also nearly 4 times our present national debt alone. This does not speak well of government management which Obamacare BTW piles on to markedly with its huge regulatory additions.

BTW, with this kind of track record in government health care how do we expect more government to “fix” the problem? May I go out on a limb and suggest that it will not? Hint: It won’t!

Free Market? What Free Market?

First of all, health care in the U.S. is far from government free. It has been that way for decades. It is already the MOST regulated market segment in the nation in spite of the fact that there is no Constitutional authority for our Federal government to enter into and interfere with private markets. Health care is not and has not been a “free” market segment for quite some time already.

The biggest intrusion into the private health care market as noted began with Medicare. Having been in the insurance industry at the time, the striking rise in premium costs in the health care market began shortly a few years thereafter. The rise in costs of the marketplace, as regulatory oversight on the part of the government has grown, has been significant. It can be expected to continue to the point of bankruptcy.

Of course, most citizens are led to believe that the government caused disruption of the market requires even MORE government to correct it. Where have they gotten that idea one may ask?

The Media Monopoly’s Role

As noted on the home page, 6 major Corporations own over 90% of all major media, including print. One only has to note how the same “news” events and spin is placed on the same issues in every major market at the same time to confirm the news monopoly.

Employees of the monopolized media also have a mandate to perform the bidding of its employer or simply risk getting fired. Consequently, the message conveyed to the public is that the State is good and free markets are bad. Why?

Simple. Multi-national Corporations won’t bite the government hand that feeds them.

Especially when more government regulation helps the larger, deeper pocketed Corporation (which can absorb the increased regulatory costs) squeeze out competition from smaller competitors. The Corporation may lose more to regulatory costs on the front end, but pick it up on the back end with increased market share as smaller business get squeezed out. The larger Corporations then siphon up the ensuing customer dollars which have to go somewhere. (In addition to the Obamacare mandate that guarantees them a steady supply of customers by eliminating free market choice.)

Therefore, the theme the consumer gets from the Corporate controlled media is that a State run monopoly is well meaning and good which is why our Australian friend is convinced that government run health care makes her “better off”.

On the other hand, those nasty entrepreneurial people left on their own in a marketplace where the consumer actually votes with their earned income, are bad because they are greedy and only want your money at all costs.

The Part Left Out of This Model

What is missed here is that when the consumer is in control of whom they select as their provider, quality of service for money spent is a major factor influencing their selection.

This mechanism in turn encourages the provider of the good or service to maintain the highest quality at the most competitive price. Now why would that happen?

Well, the consumer in a truly free market has the option to simply take their dollars somewhere else that offers better service or goods for lower cost. (An option eliminated by Obamacare as we know.)

In short, the consumers provide feedback to the provider of the good or service of how they are doing in meeting consumer needs and desires. That feedback comes to the provider in the form of dollars offered for services rendered. Do a bad job and customers take their money elsewhere.

This was the way the medical marketplace was operating until government got its foot in the door with Medicare and Medicaid. (And now Obamacare? Isn’t this adding insult to injury?)

Now, prices have risen markedly, quality of service is decreasing and the solution of course, according to the State is more government regulatory control! Not very logical but hey logic ain’t part of the decision making when you can just print money or take it from the complacent citizens who are foolish enough to think they are getting something for “free”.

Are There Any Free Markets Left and How are They Doing?

Lets briefly compare a lightly regulated marketplace where consumers actually do vote with their earned incomes- the technology market place.Technology

New discovery and product improvements are regular and expected. Prices regularly fall on previous products which for all intents and purpose are still more than adequate for the majorities needs. Yet they are regularly replaced by something even better! The innovation continues on without pause. Quite frankly the marketplace is stimulating and highly innovative, bringing out the best of the best.

Additionally, opportunity to enter into this market still allows for that unknown innovator to rise to the top by coming up with something newer and better. They can even be from 3rd world nations and/or not even participants in the highest levels of higher education who can still become successful because the free marketplace rewards results not regulations and licenses.

What About the Free Market Model in the Medical Marketplace?

Could that kind of free market innovation also be applied to the medical marketplace? Well yeah, perhaps once. However, I would sadly venture to say- not any more.

As regulatory control of this market grows (and Obamacare will guarantee that trajectory) innovators will shun it, not embrace it.

The best and brightest will as well. After all, why should they incur a 200 or $300,000 nut and end up little more than a government employee?

What Will Likely Happen Instead

As the medical marketplace continues to worsen (and I predict it will), Politicians and the experts in government will call for even more regulation to fix the problem they created.

However, that will get lost in the din of the media’s incessant drumbeat for an immediate solution. The big news will be change is needed but not today- yesterday!

The coercive force of the State or Government will beneficently grant their request and additional regulation will be trumpeted as the hero.

Meanwhile, back in reality, the services and quality will suffer and the cry for YET MORE regulation will once again raise its inevitable ugly head. The Leviathan of State will gladly, for the controlling minority not the controlled masses, reign.

Free market? What free market? There hasn’t been one in health care for decades. As the government Leviathan grows all of them are disappearing in fact.

Nevertheless, has it ever occurred to anyone to think of applying that nasty greed label to those in control of this circus, that is, those in authority- governments, banksters and Corporations?

Naaaah…..they are only doing it for our own good as any parent would for their children. They are motivated only by a deep concern for humankind that borders on complete self sacrifice right? (Pssssst……..if you’re buying that one, contact me about the bridge I have for sale in Brooklyn. Real cheap BTW.)