Monday, March 26, 2007

What "market-based approach?"

Ron Forthofer, former Green candidate for governor and Congress, complains about "the current failed market-based approach" in U.S. medicine. (See the March 24 Rocky Mountain News, business section.)

The problem is that all of the problems Forthofer describes are the direct result of government meddling in medicine, not a "market-based approach."

As I recently warned, "The advocates of socialized medicine... blame the allegedly 'free' market for the problems caused by previous and existing state interference in medicine, thereby generating a cycle of control that creates crisis that spurs calls for new controls."

Forthofer complains that the employer-pay insurance system is plagued by high costs. This is true. But the cause of these high costs -- and the employer-pay system -- is a combination of federal and state tax distortions and controls on the insurance market.

To address the problems created by government violations of individual rights in medicine, Forthofer calls for more such violations. He advocates a "single-payer system" of "public funding and [allegedly] private health care." He also calls this system "universal comprehensive coverage." His claim that completely tax-funded medicine can also be "private" is laughable. While medical facilities may remain nominally "private," in a tax-funded system the provision of medical services must be strictly controlled by politicians and bureaucrats. Forthofer offers Canada as a model -- without bothering to mention the onerous controls placed on doctors and the rationing of care for patients in that country.