The Great Healthcare Rip-Off, Ctd

Brian Fung backs up my musing that "the healthcare industry keeps on raising prices because, well, it can." His bottom line:

We usually think of insurers as the major villain in American healthcare, since much of the debate in the last few years has revolved around expanding coverage and ending discrimination. But it's also the case that healthcare providers wield an inordinate amount of power. In some cases, the providers become so powerful they can push the insurance companies around…why those providers found it so easy to jack up their rates is another question. The answer appears to be that nobody's around to stop them.

This isn't capitalism. It's rentier theft, using the power that doctors and hospitals have over patients to rip them off. And when the result of that is a massive distortion of the economy and a bankrupting of the federal government, it seems to me that government should step in. I'm beginning to wonder if, in the case of healthcare, the only way to advance fiscal conservatism is through a much more socialized medical system. When I first entered this debate, single-payer seemed the worst option to me. But the more I have understood, the saner it appears. If the free market cannot work in healthcare – and it has failed spectacularly in this country to provide even a semblance of value-for-money – then it may be time to grasp the nettle.