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The Free Market Can Fix US Health Care

With the popularity of single-payer health care on the rise, it is essential that Americans—especially younger Americans—realize the dangers of socialized health care and recognize that free-market health care policy is a vastly superior alternative. “What should we change about the United States health care system?” is currently a million-dollar question, and while many interest groups claim to have the correct answer, only a free-market system fits the bill.

Currently, insurance premiums are unbelievably high, and many wonder why. The answer is surprisingly obvious: 1) a progressively older population; 2) more expensive medication, surgeries, and procedures; and 3) the growing frequency of chronic illnesses. However, many insurance companies’ monopoly-like status in their respective states and counties exacerbate these cost pressures, as often one company will claim about half of the industry in a single state with little competition. Insurance companies  can do this as federal law prohibits insurance from crossing state lines; as a result, equivalent insurance can be up to twice as expensive in some states as in others. By allowing insurance to be sold across state lines—a longstanding conservative idea and a free-market reform—the cost of health care would decrease significantly, allowing millions more to be insured affordably. 

Another huge problem plaguing health care is the unbelievably high cost of prescription drugs. Many plans have been proposed on how to lower the costs, but many have their drawbacks. Democrats want to apply hard caps to prescription drug cost, but this would dampen medication research and creation immensely. Why spend millions of dollars researching and finding a new medication when there is no return, or the return does not come for decades? 

A proposal made last year by Republican lawmakers promotes a “chief pharmaceutical advisor” who would negotiate with pharmaceutical companies as an advocate for the American people. This would decrease prescription drug costs without giving hard caps or discouraging drug makers from new pharmaceutical innovation in the US. Even sacrificing some drugs because price cannot be talked down is a better option than having a hard cap that many drugs may not possibly fit within, or accepting everything, as the current system permits. With this combination of policies, the number of people able to get health care coverage would expand, and fewer people would be on Medicaid. This would boost the economy, increase health care quality as people could tailor their health care to their needs, and reduce spending on government health care as people no longer need it. 

Another must-do on the health care agenda is obvious to many conservatives: repeal Obamacare. This complete disaster not only cost taxpayers $2 billion dollars on the website alone, but has caused massive financial burden and lowering of health care quality for many families—including my own—who were promised they could keep their doctors and that they would pay significantly less for insurance than before. This was later found to be a lie by many citizens—including many Californians whose health care premiums increased by over 100% due to the implementation of Obamacare—and has since exposed the blunders of excessive government intervention in health care. The $2 billion spent on the website arose not only from an unrealistic timeline that caused mass panic, but also from the website’s disastrous development. Fixing the website cost millions after its debut on October 1, 2013 resulted in a total of six successfully processed applications, while the other 250,000 were not able to obtain health care. The failure of the government to handle partial control of health care leads us to wonder about  the outcome of leaving the government fully in charge of the health care system.

Innumerable historic examples show us that less government intervention is better, and this holds for health care. Countries today that have socialized or health care suffer huge wait times to see doctors, and all of the ‘best’ examples of such systems—France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and the UK—have much smaller populations than the US and drastically higher tax rates. Single-payer health care would cause taxes to increase massively, and not just on the “rich” but also on the lower and middle classes whom this health care should primarily be helping. Bernie Sanders, the biggest proponent of single-payer health care, finally admitted that single-payer health care would increase middle-class tax rates just last year. 

The extent of the requisite tax hikes to implement single-payer health care in America  remains an open question. The most comparable country to the US in terms of population is Germany, which has roughly a quarter of the population of the US, and income tax rates there range from 14% for a single person making $9,920 to 42% for a single person making $60,560. This is a progressive tax, and for incomes above these amounts, the tax rate increases to a cap at 45%. Comparatively, the US federal income tax marginal rate would be 12% for a single person earning $9,920 and 22% for a single person earning $60,560. Additionally, EU countries have value added taxes (VAT) which are substantially higher than any comparable state taxes in the US in order to fund their health care systems. 

In short—having single-payer health care would not only put the entire burden of health care upon a government that has already proved to be inefficient in dealing with health care but also raise taxes for those the health care should be helping most: the low- and middle-income classes. Keeping health care privatized results in better care for patients while preventing the government blunders we’ve seen too often in the past, such as the disaster that was Obamacare However, in order to do this, conservative policies must be put into place. Competition in the marketplace via healthcare being sold across state lines must be allowed in order to drive prices down, and prescription drug prices must be reduced without sacrificing new innovation in the US through a position such as the “chief pharmaceutical advisor.”

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