The Lie That Started It All: Why the Healthcare System Can’t Be Regulated By The “Free-Market”

How to win on Medicare for All

Why the “free-market” will never create the healthcare system we need.

Our current healthcare system is designed to do one thing: make money for insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and their shareholders.

For a “free-market” to work, a few things are needed:

  • “Elastic” demand.
    • For market forces to keep prices under control, there needs to be some flexibility in how much of the “product” people will consume depending on what the price is.
    • The fact is, price doesn’t effect people’s need for healthcare.
  • An educated consumer.
    • It’s almost impossible to make an educated choice on your health care. Even if you were able to learn enough medical science to “shop around” for procedures, medications, etc, there is no standardization of pricing, and most of the time it’s impossible to find out what you will be charged.
  • Consumer choice.
    • For a “free-market” to keep prices under control, there needs to be the possibility that the consumer will go elsewhere, or choose not to purchase the “product”.
    • The choice between paying for health care and dying isn’t a choice.

Here’s an example: If you wanted to buy a car, you’d have a range of options. You could decide whether you want to buy a used car or a new one, research reliability, safety, gas mileage, cargo space, and price. You could even decide you’d like to take the bus instead. However, if you did buy a car, drove it off the lot, and hit a pedestrian, they’d have significantly fewer options. They don’t get to shop for an affordable ambulance, decide on which hospital they’d like to be rushed to based on quality of care and price, pick the ER doctors or the surgeons who operate on them. They definitely can’t decide to not get medical treatment.

There are no market forces that can control the price of healthcare.



NEXT: Here’s How We Pay for It  →