Did We Even Need Health Care Reform?
That’s the question James Pethokoukis asks, citing research which shows that the free market was “bending the cost curve” on health care and health insurance long before Obamacare was passed into law:
The Obama White House considered healthcare reform such a priority that it turned its attention to Obamacare about thirty seconds after getting the stimulus passed in 2009. Yet the pace of healthcare spending increases actually has been cooling since 2002.
How did that happen? J.D. Kleinke, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, credits innovation and choice. First, Americans started benefiting from some breakthrough drugs — such as Zocor for heart disease or Zyprexa for schizophrenia — many of which are now in generic form. Second, the decline of the HMO model meant those with insurance could have again have healthcare their way — with a price. “Higher deductibles, new co-payments, Health Savings Accounts, “tiered” drug plans—these were all rolling out between 2000 and 2004, the same years that health-care inflation was starting to cool,” Kleinke notes in a recent op-ed.
Free markets flow like water, finding the path of least resistance. Even in highly-regulated environments, such as the health care and health insurance industries, the constant drive of competing service providers to edge one another out on cost and quality can lower prices and increase efficiency.
So yes, even in America’s not-so-free health care/insurance markets, the free market was driving prices down through innovation, invention and competition. In fact, Obamacare made things worse by impeding market forces in health insurance/care even further than they were.
As for whether or not we needed health insurance reform, of course we did, and a majority of Americans agree. In the lead up to Obamacare, poll after poll indicated majority support for “health care reform” with the sort of specific reform not defined. Obamacare was a sort of reform, sure, but it was the wrong sort of reform. Instead of making the health insurance/care markets more flexible, Obamacare made them less flexible.
What we need is health insurance that gives Americans more choice, but also makes directly responsible for their health insurance/health care.Tags: free markets, health insurance, obamacare