There Is A Difference

One thing I hear again and again during the health care reform debate is how Obamacare will ration health care. Proponents of Obamacare counter that opinion is that health care is already rationed by the insurance companies. I think it's time to clear up that canard.

First, government-provided and controlled health care is always rationed. That's how they save money on health care costs.

Second, insurance companies do not provide health care, they merely pay for their policy holder's medical claims. Coverage depends upon the health insurance policy. They are not obligated to pay for treatments or procedures not covered by the policy. But the patient still has the option to undergo the treatment or procedure on their own dime. They are not denied care by the insurance company.

Another misdirection used by the Obamacare proponents is that the free market has failed in regards to health care costs. The only problem with that claim is that the free market has little to do with health care costs because for the most part it hasn't been a free market for over 40 years. Both the states and the federal government skew free market signals with regulations and mandates, which makes them totally useless for setting the market value of various medical services. The prices are, in effect, set by the government, state and/or federal and not by the medical practices or the insurance companies.

The only exceptions to this are those medical practices that do not take insurance. They are the only free market health care practices operating in the US, be they small single physician family practices or certain medical specialties (like plastic surgery and LASIK). Their costs are known, under their control, and their costs are far smaller than the health care industry in general.

That ought to tell us something.

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