From the time the law known as Obamacare was introduced in 2009, there has been some debate over the federal mandate that individuals must own a health insurance policy that has federal approval. More recently the debate has centered around a provision mandating employers not only provide health insurance for their employees, but that employers must provide health insurance that covers contraception and abortifacient coverage. However, like most other debates in this country, only two sides are being discussed.
Darian Worden at the Center for a Stateless Society asks, “Why is it considered normal for your boss to determine your healthcare options in the first place? Relying on employers for healthcare means the company has more leverage over the worker… this can mean an extension of the boss’s control outside of work hours.”
But, how did we get to this point? What happened to the free market?
It could be argued that a true free market never existed, though I’m sure there is a consensus that the market was certainly freer before the creation of the FDA and many other agencies that regulate health care. Mary Ruwart writes in Healing Our World, “In the mid-1800s, doctors learned their profession in medical schools, by apprenticing with another practitioner, and/or by developing their own therapies. Many individuals limited their practice to specific areas… This diversity in the training and type of practice encouraged innovation and allowed individuals to patronize the health care provider who seemed best suited to both their needs and their pocketbooks.”
Ruwart continues, “By the early 1900s, every state had agreed to the aggression of physician licensing. To obtain a license, healers had to meet the requirements of the licensing board. Without permission to practice, they would be stopped- at gunpoint, if necessary- from treating patients who still wanted their services… The consumer was no longer king; the licensing boards were.”
Roderick T. Long explains that it was once common for workers to join a friendly society or fraternal organization These were essentially mutual aid organizations where monthly fees created a pool of resources that participants could draw on in a time of need. They often negotiated contracts with doctors to serve members for a reasonable expense paid for by the organization. Regulation and government programs prevented these organizations from continuing to serve the public.
The cycle has been used time and again; government creates a problem (fewer certified doctors and increased costs) then government offers a solution (subsidies health care and more regulation). Even though the “solution” perpetuates the problem — many people are noticing problems in the health care industry are due to government regulation — many others will continue asking for more government regulation.
Mary Ruwart sums it up quite well, “Only non-aggression can turn the tide. When we deregulate medical care, we will make health care costs affordable. Until then, we will have to pay the price for our aggression.” Unfortunately, that price includes paying for things you may not want or need.