Key to Healthcare Reform: Lively Competition, Not The Dead Hand of Government Compulsion
Jeff Jacoby writes in today's Boston Globe:
Imagine the sort of car you’d drive if government regulations made it illegal to sell any automobile that didn’t feature 380-horsepower direct-injection V6 engines, computer-controlled electric power steering, eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel-drive, automatic climate control, “smart key’’ technology, touch-screen navigation, backup cameras, LED headlights, acoustic glass, surround-sound stereo, and leather seat stitching.
If those were the minimum requirements every car had to meet before it could be sold, would you commute to and from work every day in a Lexus LS 460 or some other luxury vehicle? Well, you might, if the steep price wasn’t an obstacle. But it’s more likely you wouldn’t be driving at all. If the government barred you from buying anything but a high-end car, you’d probably have no choice but to rely on the bus or subway, or to find a job closer to home.
What is true of transportation is true of everything else: Increase the number of amenities that a product or service must include, and more consumers will be unable to pay for that product or service. That is why one of the simplest strategies for making health insurance more affordable is to reduce the minimum number of benefits that insurers are required to cover.
In every state in the union, legislators and regulators drive up the cost of healthcare by making insurance policies more comprehensive. Rather than allow the free market to determine which medical services health plans will cover, states force consumers to pay for an array of covered benefits they may not need or want.
The key to healthcare reform is lively competition, not the dead hand of government compulsion. Legislators, take note: Enacting new mandates won’t make medical insurance more affordable. Repealing old ones just might.
MP: It's a basic law of economics (Perry's Law) that market competition breeds competence (and lower prices) and government restrictions on competition and market forces breed incompetence (and higher prices). If we want affordable health care, we should encourage more competition, not less; and less government intervention, not more.