Why Market Logic Can't Solve the US Health Care Crisis

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

The ongoing controversy over the American Health Care Act (AHCA) -- the GOP's proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act -- highlights a fundamental disconnect in ideas about how involved the government should be in our health care.

A striking omission in these debates is the cost of health care itself. There is considerable silence on how much Americans pay, while there is considerable noise from policy makers on health insurance costs and coverage mandates. Insurance costs are a reflection of the costs of medical care, so addressing insurance costs alone is an exercise in futility.

The US health care system operates on "free-market" logics, which call for a rolling back of government-imposed regulations, tariffs and other controls. According to capitalists, in theory, this creates an ideal environment where competition and consumer preferences would drive innovation and ensure economic growth, benefiting all classes through a "trickle down." That economic growth ideally should bring resources to everyone so they can purchase coverage they need.

From truthout