Free-Market Health Care: Only Idea That Will Work
While government's role in health care has expanded — one out of two health care dollars is now spent by the government — health care has become more expensive, less efficient, and less accessible. Health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000 while inflation grew at 18% and wages grew by 20%. Meanwhile, the percentage of employers offering coverage has dropped 8% during the same period.
Convincing consumers that government is the problem obviously will require more than statistics or sound policy, but an appeal to their gut level expectations. The fact is Americans expect choice, freedom, and security in every area of their lives except for two: health care and education. This dynamic represents both a challenge and an opportunity.
The challenge is that low expectations and widespread frustration has made consumers vulnerable to the seduction of socialized medicine. The opportunity is in helping consumers see that if the government-imposed barriers in the health care market were erected anywhere else in our economy they would revolt.
A market-based system that would unleash the power of innovation and competition in health care is within reach. A key reform would involve transferring health care tax benefits to individuals rather than employers. Free-market health care isn't merely a good idea that ought to be attempted; it is the only idea that will work.
~Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., writing in today's NY Sun
Comment: Now that's a double breath of fresh air: both a politician and a physician calling for free-market health care.