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02 March 2010 @ 12:35 pm
thoughts on health care and free markets (or "how's that workin out fer ya?")  
So Anthem (Blue Cross) announced recently that they would be raising rates for many of their subscribers to their health care insurance plans. To no one's surprise there was a huge outcry from people, an outcry that's led to hearings first in various state legislatures and now in Congress.

I was thinking about this the other day. To me this situation provides an interesting contrast between what people *say* they want and what they then say when they actually get what they say they want. (Or even, just a hint of what they say they want).


As I see it, what Anthem is doing (or, trying to do) is a classic free market scenario.

Here's my review of what the words "free market" means to me. In a free market:
- Business are free to choose to charge whatever they want for their service
- Customers are free to figure out what they want to pay for a service
- If a customer doesn't want to buy a service from a business, they don't have to.
- If a business doesn't want to provide a service to a customer, they don't have to.

Anthem is caught in a situation many health insurance/care providers find themselves in. The economy is tough. People have lost jobs, or have jobs that pay less. Many people, especially *young* and *healthy* people, are choosing to drop health insurance or go to another cheaper vendor. A vendor other than Anthem.

This means that Anthem's customer base is becoming less and less people who don't cost much (the young and healthy ones) and more and more people who cost a lot (older, chronic conditions, more sick, etc). So providing care to its customer base is costing Anthem more, and Anthem is saying "we have to charge you, our customers, more for our services". And, the customers complain. To their neighbors, to the media, and to the government.

But here's what strikes me as funny. I would not at all be surprised if there is a sizable intersection of "people caught by Anthem's health care increases" and "people who consider themselves part of the anti-government, anti-tax, tea-party, revolution." Not everyone is in this intersection, but I don't doubt that there are many people who are.

What I want to say to them is: welcome to the free market. Your current provider of the service is choosing to raise their rates. You are free to go elsewhere with your business. But don't be surprised if another provider doesn't want to take your business because you're just too expensive. This is the way the free market works. If you truly believe the government should stay out of the health care market, then you can *not* complain to the government that something should be done when the health care market doesn't work in your favor.

I also want to say to them: That tea-party-in', anti-government in health care'in, rallyin' and supportin' people who don't really have your own interests in mind stuff ... how's that workin' out fer ya?

Sheesh. Drives me crazy sometimes, it does.

And that's the end of my thoughts today.