Think piece: What a free market in healthcare would look like


There are pluses and minuses to the health reforms proposed by the government. On the plus side, the reforms will give patients greater choice and practitioners greater freedom. Both those things should drive up quality. Meanwhile, introducing (some) competition on price should help keep spiraling costs under control (a bit). On the downside, the reforms will trigger an enormous, and probably very costly upheaval, and the resulting system will still be highly bureaucratic.

Will the pluses outweigh the minuses? That very much depends on how much freedom, choice and competition the reforms are able to inject into the system. As yet, I’m not convinced they do enough to deliver major benefits to the patient – though I am open to persuasion on this, and much will depend on the final legislation and its implementation.

Still, whatever you think of the government’s planned reforms, it is important to realize that there is a huge gulf between what they would create – a government-funded system of heavily regulated, managed competition – and a genuine free market in healthcare. Indeed, if I were being harsh, I’d say the government’s proposals are merely another attempt to make socialism work, rather than a shift to a more liberal system.

Let’s imagine a free market health system... [Continue reading]