Columnist Arnold Kling writes at the Library of Economics and Liberty website:
The basic problem that the Democrats have with health care reform is that when it comes to taking our system away from free markets, there is just not that much farther we can go. We already regulate the practice of medicine and allied health services with licensing cartels. We already regulate individual health insurance practically out of existence.
In contrast, there is a lot of room to move health care in the other direction — toward free markets. The only real health care reformers are those of us on the libertarian fringe.
Libertarian candidates are even emphasizing the cash for health services issue in their campaigns. Dr. Tim Nerenz is a Libertarian Party candidate for Congress in Wisconsin. From his campaign website:
The way to fix an economic efficiency problem is to increase choice and competition; add in the component of direct payment for services, and you have a Libertarian health care alternative to government run health care – Medical Choice.
We already pay for many types of health care services directly – optometry, dentistry, chiropractic, many pharmacy products and services, routine office visits, for example. The simple act of paying the entire amount of a service, rather than a tiny co-pay portion, make consumers and providers focus on benefits and costs of health care services, just as they do any other purchase decision.
Hopefully, Libertarian Party candidates such as Dr. Nerenz can push the issue more into the mainstream of American politics. And hopefully, Republicans will be quick enough to adopt this libertarian ideal.
The completely free market alternative of cash and barter could provide a powerful counter balance to the Progressives looking for a complete government takeover.