Healthcare: Market Solutions vs. Bureaucratic Decrees
Our current battle over healthcare is being debated from a false premise. Most people have bought into the lie that healthcare is or should be a right. It isn’t a right as understood by most people. The right to keep and bare arms doesn’t mean someone else is obligated to supply a gun. The right to free speech doesn’t mean someone else is obligated to supply a microphone, a stage and an audience. But for some reason we think a right to healthcare means someone is obligated to provide it.
The truth is healthcare is an economic good or service produced by individuals. These individuals own what they produce. It is their property. No one has a right to what someone else produces.
How can you gain possession of what someone else owns? 1) You can produce something they want and exchange it for what they have produced. 2) They may give it to you as a gift. 3) You can steal it. 4) You can have someone steal another persons production, exchange it for what you want, and have them give it to you indirectly. 5) You can have someone else steal it and give it to you directly.
Government intervention into the healthcare market, up to and including Obamacare, has been an incremental march away from the first two and toward the last two. Everyone knows that direct theft of another person’s property is unethical and immoral because it is illegal. But when we are one or two steps removed from the direct theft, for some reason we think it’s ethical and moral because government says it’s legal.
ECONOMIC REALITY OF HEALTHCARE
Healthcare is an economic good ruled by the laws of economics. Scarcity, subjective value, supply and demand are a few laws we need to look at in order to understand why government central planning isn’t the right process to ration the scarce good we call healthcare.
SCARCITY: Healthcare has to be produced. It is a scarce good. It isn’t like the air we breathe. Air doesn’t have to be produced by anyone. The abundant supply of air exists naturally. You might say the air I put in my tires Isn’t free. The air you put in your tires is first compressed and then forced into your tires. Compressed air has to be produced, therefore it is an economic good and not free like the air you breathe.
SUBJECTIVE VALUE: Everyone values healthcare differently. There is no objective value that can be placed on healthcare. The value for healthcare is subjective depending on each individual’s needs and wants. Both the demand for and the supply of healthcare is valued subjectively.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND: Since healthcare is scarce and valued subjectively, the law of supply and demand comes into play coordinating its production and consumption. The price reflects subjective valuations by individuals related to supply and demand. The subjective valuations at the existing price drives supply and demand to a new coordinating price.
The law of supply and demand states that more is demanded at a lower price than a higher price and more is supplied at higher price than a lower price. Price changes are constantly re-coordinating supply and demand according to the subjective valuations of individuals.
The supply of healthcare is limited by the scarcity of the resources, labor, capital and time needed to produce it. It is also limited by the demand for healthcare. If the demand for healthcare increases against a fixed supply, the price will go up in order to ration the scarce resource. As the price rises more resources, labor, capital, and time will be attracted to producing healthcare. As the supply increases to meet the higher demand a point will be reached where the price will stabilize and then decrease as supply outpaces demand.
The changing price sends information to consumers and producers about the scarcity of healthcare. These price changes are figured into the subjective valuations of how much each consumer will demand and how much each producer will supply.
Free market prices are the most efficient way to ration healthcare in a world of scarcity and subjective value.
GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION INTO HEALTHCARE
Government mandated healthcare subsidies, taxes and regulations distort the prices that would normally exist in a free market. Consumers demands and producers supplies are going to change according to these distorted prices. A mismatch of the supply of and demand for these scarce resources is brought about by government intervention.
What did you think was going to happen when more consumers were brought into the market by the Obamacare individual mandate? Subsidies also increase demand. Prices were guaranteed to rise as demand was artificially increased.
What happens when prices for healthcare services paid by Medicare and Medicaid are fixed below what they would be in a free market? The supply of health care would decrease at these lower prices.
Obamacare created more demand and at the same time created the incentive to supply less. What happens to the price when more is demanded and less is supplied? Even though our politicians told us costs would go down under The Affordable Care Act, anyone who understood basic economics could have predicted which way the price would go. And that isn’t even including paying for the government bureaucracy needed to implement the ACA.
The failure of the Republican repeal and replace bill is a good thing. The bill was just an exchange of a set of not quite as bad new government regulations for the existing bad government regulations. Their is only one way to reduce the cost of healthcare. Get rid of government subsidies, taxes and regulations. Unfortunately all Democrats and a majority of Republicans don’t understand basic economics.
Quoting Ludwig von Mises – “Economic history is a long record of Government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics.“
Republicans are also scared of political fall out when they get rid of healthcare entitlements. The Democrats and their accomplices in the main stream media will trot out all the sob stories of people whose ‘access’ to healthcare was taken away. Of course the MSM didn’t tell the stories of all the people who had their healthcare costs sky rocket under the ACA. These rising premiums paid for the increased costs and subsidies caused by government intervention.
Millions of families got crushed by the higher cost of healthcare. These were small businessmen and people who worked for small businesses in the more rural counties in America. These are the same people who were barely able to stay afloat when the economy crashed in 08. They cut their discretionary spending to the bone. Many had to use their savings and retirement accounts to make it through the recession.
When the Affordable Care Act was implemented after 2013 there was no spending left to cut to pay for the higher cost of healthcare. Wives had to go back to work just for the insurance. Men took second jobs for the same reason. These are the people in the swing states of Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, and the Democrat States of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania who voted for Trump. He was their only hope. They literally couldn’t afford to vote for Hilary.
Fortunately market alternatives to Obamacare are starting to appear around the country.
As the price of Obamacare goes higher the demand for Obamacare will decrease. This higher price will also bring about lower cost market alternatives to the Government run system. These alternatives will be outside of the system. We can call these free market alternatives as long as Government doesn’t try to shut them down with regulations. If they do try to shut them down they will then become black market alternatives (the new free market).
Fracking is an example of a market alternative to the OPEC cartel and our Governments regulations on drilling off shore and on public land. When the price of oil rose to above $110 dollars a barrel it became affordable for hydraulic fracturing to take off on private land. Now that it is profitable to frack at $45 a barrel the OPEC cartel has lost its monopoly power. The high price of $110 was what eventually brought the price of oil down. Healthcare will be no different. The market will find an alternative as the price goes higher.
Economic reality will end Obamacare. Let’s hope the Government doesn’t end the market alternatives that have started to take root.