Monday, July 20, 2009

Schwartz on Systems

The July 18, 2009 Boulder Daily Camera carried Brian Schwartz's piece on reforming the current health care system. As he correctly notes, the central problem is the very existence of a "system":
Having a health care "system" is itself the problem. It implies that politicians dictate your medical choices, at your expense, regardless of whether their "system" serves your individual needs and preferences.

Consumers are frustrated with the low-quality politicized school systems and the regularly-jammed highway systems. We are quite pleased with our iPods and laptops. But there is no government-run consumer electronics "system;" instead, there's a relatively free market. A free market would do the same for medicine.

But politicians have imposed their will upon what should be individual medical decisions, resulting in an un-free market. The tax codes punishes you for not buying insurance through your employer, so you're stuck with your employer's few options. This coddles insurance companies, who are accountable to your employers instead of you. Politicians manipulate the tax code so we buy excessive insurance coverage, which discourages both price competition and prudent medical spending.

Politicians forbid us from buying more affordable insurance available to residents of other states. They force us to buy expensive policies loaded with mandated benefits many customers don't want. They force taxpayers to fund Medicaid and Medicare, which cause medical inflation, increase insurance premiums, and will bankrupt the country.

Politicians empower the FDA to enforce a default ban on all new drugs, which stifles innovation and deprives patients of life-saving medications.

Politicians should not dictate your medical and insurance decisions, you should. Only a free market empowers patients in this way, requires makes insurers and physicians to be accountable to them.

Brian T. Schwartz,
Thank you, Brian, for emphasizing an important point that is too often under-appreciated!