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More on health care and free markets

October 19, 2009 - Mike Maneval

More news on the possibility the U.S. government will end the anti-trust exemption for the health insurance sector allows me to expand upon my last post. Which is good, because my last post missed the big picture when I took the chance to make an argument about underlying market conditions in health care.

Now, with White House advisor David Axelrod appearing on ABC Sunday and leaving the option for President Obama to back the move open - a development to which Huffington Post maintains Obama alluded in Saturday's radio address, I can both acknowledge the big picture AND keep grinding my axe.

Ending the anti-trust exemption would make considerable strides in improving competition and consumer choice. I would suggest the greatest potential for the proposal is as an alternative for the public option, which continues to inspire skepticism in many. And as a replacement measure it would improve consumer choice in a manner better rooted in free-enterprise economics.

But, while this development is perhaps friendlier to free enterprise and could correct monopolistic conditions, it still would not produce true free-market conditions in the health care sector - and that's a good thing. For generations, health care professionals have been subject to state licensing so consumers can have faith in the services rendered. While the licensing is still a government-imposed barrier to supply, it's still a development which helped America improve life expectancy by staggering measure and built a market which, while constrained, is generally trustworthy.


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