Thomas Sowell

One of the ways of reducing the costs of medical insurance would be to pass federal legislation putting an end to state regulation of insurance companies. That would instantly eliminate thousands of state mandates, which force insurance to cover everything from wigs to marriage counseling, depending on which special interests are influential in which states.

It would also promote nationwide competition among insurance companies-- and competition keeps prices down better than politicians will. Moreover, competition can bring down the costs behind the prices, in part by forcing less efficient insurance companies out of business.

Another very real and very big cost behind the high prices for medical treatment are the many forms of expensive "defensive medicine" that doctors and hospitals have to practice, in order to avoid being sued by unscrupulous lawyers. Expensive and unnecessary tests and treatments cost even more than the multimillion dollar awards that clever lawyers can get from gullible juries.

Tightening up the laws, so that junk science does not prevail in courts, would create some real savings in medical costs. But, since plaintiff's lawyers are big financial contributors to the Democratic Party, that is unlikely to happen during this administration.

Finally, there are costs that are high because people want medical care in more comfortable surroundings-- a private room rather than a bed in a ward, for example-- and are willing to pay for that. This is more common among Americans.

There is no reason for others to interfere with that, just because of a mindless mantra of "bringing down the cost of medical care" or class warfare rhetoric about "Cadillac health plans."


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate



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