NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 9, 2004

Imposing greater government control of health care services will stifle innovation and quality of care, says William Orzechowski (National Taxpayers Union).

When government gets involved in health care, he says, large costs are problems to be controlled either through rationing of services (resulting in waiting lists) or coercion. In contrast, free markets see high costs as an opportunity for further innovation.

The United States, a country which fosters entrepreneurship like few others, has led the way in medical breakthroughs:

  • It is the world's largest producer of medical devices and diagnostics and leads all countries in drug innovation despite only having 5 percent of the world's population.
  • It has produced 45 percent of the world's blockbuster drugs over the past 25 years.

Yet consumers and politicians are tempted to ramp up government spending in health care, he says, because the costs of lost innovation and new drugs are generally imperceptible: society can't miss what it never had in the first place.

For instance, it was not until mass communication and television that the Soviet people could see the fruits of progress in health care services enjoyed by free societies and the costs imposed by state-controlled health care.

Similarly, Canada, the only industrialized country that does not allow for private health care, ranks near the bottom of 24 countries in terms of access to high tech medical devices like MRIs and CT scanners, says Orzechowski.

Source: William Orzechowski, "Heart Burn After the Free Lunch," Tech Central Station, August 2, 2004.

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