Free-market health care
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Free-market health care is a health care proposal in which all health care is bought and sold without government regulation, oversight, approval and licensing. Proponents state that this system increase health care quality and lower medical insurance costs. They contend that systems like single-payer health care and publicly funded health care result in higher costs, inefficiency, longer waiting times for care, denial of care to some, and overall mismanagement.
Skeptics argue that health care as an unregulated commodity invokes market failures not present with government regulation and that selling health care as a commodity leads to both unfair and inefficient systems with poorer individuals being unable to afford preventive care. It has also been contended that such a system is inherently selfish, and leads to unnecessary death.
Free-market health care advocates assert that:
- Patents on pharmaceuticals make medication more expensive and encourages excessive advertising of their drugs, compared to non-patented remedies. Therefore, they oppose patents on pharmaceuticals.
Laws requiring prescriptions for drugs increase the cost of health care by forcing individuals to seek permission from state-sanctioned physicians to purchase drugs.
- Medical schools and public education teach conventional medicine and disregards alternative medicine. Therefore, they detract government funding of medical schools and education.
- Medical licensing of medical doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies drive up health care prices because it produces a scarcity in health practitioners. Therefore, they want to eliminate government licensing and instead advocate market-based certification.
- Tariffs on imported drugs and herbs raise the price while producing no economic benefit. Abolishing all tariffs will result in a comparative advantage, thus benefit both parties.
Debates and arguments
Critics of a free market based system such as Eben Harrell of Time argue that the evidence is that in the United Kingdom, which operates a truly socialized health care system, many health outcomes are as good as and sometimes better than in the US where health care has a much lower involvement by government. They concede that the U.S. ranks better on some criteria such as cancer mortality rates. They also argue based on the fact that the cost of health care in the UK is $2,500 per annum compared to $6,000 per annum in the US, although people in the US with comprehensive medical insurance can face shorter waiting lists. Dr. Arthur Kellermann, Associate Dean for health policy at Emory University, has stated that allocating health care by ability to pay rather than by anticipated medical benefits in the US makes its system more unproductive, with poor people avoiding preventive care and eventually using expensive emergency treatment.
John Stossel, an investigative reporter and a supporter of an unbundled commodity system, has remarked that "Insurance invites waste. That's a reason health care costs so much, and is often so consumer-unfriendly. In the few areas where there are free markets in health care -- such as cosmetic medicine and Lasik eye surgery -- customer service is great, and prices continue to drop." Republican Senator and medical doctor Tom Coburn has stated that the healthcare system in Switzerland should serve as a model for U.S. reform. He wrote for New York Sun that reform should involve a market-based method transferring health care tax benefits to individuals rather than employers as well as giving individuals extra tax credits to afford more coverage.
The health freedom movement supports free choice in health care. The libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute argues in favor of deregulation of the medical profession and health care sector. Some activists are politically left-wing, whilst the Republican congressman and 2008 U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul, who supports a free-market health care system, calls himself a free market libertarian. A leading supporter of the movement, Paul introduced the Health Freedom Protection Act in the U.S. Congress in 2005.
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- John Stossel (October 16, 2006). "Health Insurance Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be". ABC News. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
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- Harrell, Eben (August 18, 2009). "Is Britain's Health-Care System Really That Bad?". Time. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
- Tom Coburn (March 10, 2008). "Competition Solves Health Care". New York Sun. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
- How Medical Boards Nationalized Health Care - Henry Jones - Mises Institute
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- Health Freedom Protection Act Introduced in US Congress
- Free Speech and Dietary Supplements