Wednesday, July 18, 2018

FEE’s Essential Guide to Health Care

Answers to the Health Care Conundrum

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Health care policy rocks elections and dominates headlines for a reason. It gets to the core of how we live, even whether we live. The issue comes down to this. Should we trust government to manage this? Or should we let the competitive forces of the market deliver what we need?

You can gain some insight by reflecting on other parts of your life. Where do you shop for groceries, clothing, computers, make up? Do we have national plans and bureaucracies managing their creation and delivery? Absolutely not. We’ve learned from experience that leaving these sectors to market forces reduces prices, incentivizes creativity, and leads to mass consumption.

This is precisely how health care became amazing in the modern era. Government had no involvement at all until the first decade of the 20th century. Even then, it was mostly limited until after World War II. But the greatest explosion of health ever recorded in human history occurred in the 2nd half of the 19th century, before government had any hand in health care.

It is clear where we need to be headed with policy. But that is easier said than done. There are special interests. There are payoffs. There are bureaucracies to feed and politicians who wanted to demagogue the issue to achieve reelection. Unraveling this mess is a serious challenge. The main challenge is intellectual: all of us need to understand. This is the first step.

What follows is the essential guide to that understanding.

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