Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Health Care Costs Are So High

William Tucker has authored one of the most informative articles on health care costs I've ever read. He explains clearly and in detail some of the reasons they're so high. The facts he lays out are alone enough to point the way to how properly to 'reform' the health care and health insurance sectors of the economy.

Among many other things, it shows how the Federal government has been willing to selectively override long-standing legislation (in this case, anti-trust) for the purpose of social engineering. Even better, it's a classic example of how interference in the market leads to ill effects calling for ever more legislation to fix the problems created, in a never-ending death spiral toward pure socialism.
Congress took up the offer by passing the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, a bi-partisan effort co-sponsored by Senators Pat McCarran, a Democrat from Nevada, and Homer Ferguson, a Republican from Michigan.

The law reserved licensing and regulation of the industry to the states, assuming they would run it along the lines of a public utility. Because they were setting rates in conjunction with state insurance authorities, the companies were allowed to collaborate on data collection and risk estimates. For this they were exempted from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Thus began the system we have today, where there is no national market for health, fire, or auto insurance but 50 separate state markets. Insurance companies must go through extensive licensing procedures in order to gain permission to sell insurance in each and every state. Some states are very permissive, others are very restrictive.

As usually happens in such situations, companies that are already licensed to sell insurance generally oppose licensing other carriers in order to suppress competition. In many states, regulators have formed a virtual partnership with one large carrier -- usually the local Blue Cross."


Typically the providers of some marginal health service such as chiropractic or treatment for alcoholism will come to the legislature and insist that theirs is a service essential to all humanity. Often crusading consumers of chiropractic or alcoholism treatment second their efforts.

The legislature responds by mandating that every insurance policy include coverage. Before long, people are being forced to buy coverage for services they don't want or need. The result is that insurance costs go up for everyone.

The Council on Affordable Health Insurance estimates that there are now 2,133 separate mandates in the 50 states for services as diverse as podiatrists, midwives, occupational therapists, athletic trainers and pastoral counselors. CAHI estimates these mandates raise the price of insurance 20 to 50 percent.
The entire article is well worth the time to read and digest. This is intellectual ammunition of the highest caliber.


VH said...

Ah, the classic "band-aids on top of band aids" government conundrum. The sad part is that people will argue vehemently for this maze of bureaucracy.

Ken said...

Of course they will, VH. Somebody wanted it that way, and somebody elected people who were willing to make it happen. In this case, it's (alas, Babylon!) my fellow Boomers, cheerfully beggaring their grandchildren for "free" Viagra.