• Christine Mann

Today's Blue Light Special: Open Heart Surgery

We often hear from Republicans that they favor a "market-based" solution to our issues with Health Care in the United States. They assert that if we unleash the forces of a free market, prices would drop due to competition, and our system would be saved. For Republicans, everything is better with a free market.

This is expected from Republicans. We have heard it over and over for decades. There are even some Democrats who have bought into this idea. I find that disappointing.

At a recent healthcare Town Hall I attended, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Joe Jarvis make a presentation about all of the ways that our current system supports perverse incentives for poor care and how a purely market based system would make this worse.

Besides the moral issues with the Healthcare industry being for-profit, there's the fact that Healthcare can never be driven by market forces.

Here's why:

Suppose you see that the local Mercedes dealership is having a one day sale: they are offering $50,000 models for half off. You might consider buying one, even if you're not in the market for a car. It's a great deal!

Now suppose the local hospital is offering a one day sale on $50,000 open heart surgeries, half off. Would you submit to open heart surgery if you didn't absolutely need it done? Nope.

How about the opposite question: would you forego buying a yacht if you don't have the money? But you're probably going to try to find a way to get chemotherapy for your child, even if you go bankrupt.

Healthcare is not a commodity. No one comparison shops when they are in the ambulance headed to the hospital after an accident, nor should they have to. People with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses should never have to research which doctor/hospital/lab will give them the best price. And it is impossible to predict in advance which insurance company will give the best coverage for diseases that you may have sometime in the future.

The free market is great when you are buying a flat screen TV. Our healthcare, however, should not be based on market incentives.


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