Trust the Market, Not Bureaucrats

The following is most of a letter to the editor in a recent issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, Penn’s Alumni magazine. It was written in response to an article about health care:

Health-care insurance should be a taxable benefit. Tax rates should be reduced so that the change is revenue-neutral to the U.S. Treasury. Employees might prefer lower-cost, high-deductible insurance meant to cover extraordinary medical contingencies, and higher cash compensation, rather than more expensive comprehensive insurance and less cash, which are advantaged under our current tax regime. More cash-paying patients would bring more value-shopping discipline to the health-care industry. Also, the supply of health-care providers could be increased by allowing, say, registered nurses with 10 years’ clinical experience, to open frontline medical offices—acting as lower-cost general practitioners, referring cases beyond their skill level to MDs. Medical malpractice should be reformed to reduce out-sized punitive damages. The states could be pressured to make such changes by making federal funding contingent on it.

Universal health care is government intrusion in what should be a very private matter: the individual’s personal health-care choices. It is more than a disguised transfer-payment system taxing the healthy and wealthy, subsidizing the sick and poor. It defeats the price mechanism, substituting clumsy bureaucratic control for the infinitely more responsive market. It will result in higher costs, higher taxes, waiting lists, and decreased incentives for innovation and excellence.

– Samuel Fitting

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