Health Care

I’m a liberal, but in my old age I’m a bit more conservative and I’m swayed by using proper economic incentives to achieve societal goals. I am generally a fan of using free markets and pricing to guide people because it’s the simplest, most predictable method of encouraging change. But health care is a massive, complex problem which clearly is not working and there doesn’t seem to be a way to fix it without massive government intervention. I start with the premise that we want at least basic health care with universal coverage. A couple of things I’ve heard recently make me think that free markets are not the way to go. The various components of the health care industry have perverse a set of incentives that are sort of contradictory to overall public health.

First, doctors are paid by the procedures they do and not the overall quality of life that they provide to the public they serve.

Second, health insurance agencies can achieve financial success by avoiding paying out claims. Insurance companies spend a large amount of effort to avoid covering expensive patients and procedures.

Third, consumers have no way of ever understanding, valuing or navigating through the health care system without professional help.

I think we need a publicly funded health care option. It’s critical for someone you trust to step in between the consumer and health care provider to give you the best value for care, set cost limits, and negotiate with providers. Government may not be the most efficient way of doing this, but at least you don’t have to second guess the intentions of the government like you do with an insurance company.

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