George Will has seen why health care in the US costs so much, and it is (the) US (government). He writes:
The president says that the health-care market "has not worked perfectly." Indeed. Only God, supposedly, and Wrigley Field, actually, are perfect. Anyway, given the heavy presence of government dollars (46 percent of health-care dollars) and regulations, the market, such as it is, is hardly free to work.
As market enthusiasts, conservatives should stop warning that the president's reforms will result in health-care "rationing." Every product, from a jelly doughnut to a jumbo jet, is rationed — by price or by politics. The conservative's task is to explain why price is preferable. The answer is that prices produce a rational allocation of scarce resources.
Blaming the government for the high cost of health care comes out of left field (that's a baseball metaphor) in this piece. Will has in other words done nothing to establish that claim. He has argued that Americans spend more on health care–the only reason he has given is this:
Today the portion of income consumed by those four has barely changed — 55 percent. But the health-care component has increased while the other three combined have decreased. This is partly because as societies become richer, they spend more on health care — and symphonies, universities, museums, etc.
He hasn't addressed two very obvious objections to this: (1) just about every other advanced society pays less for health care and gets more (every citizen covered, better overall outcomes) and (2) paying more for health care does not entail getting more: A "free market" for health care services, in other words, may not produce the most rational outcomes. That "truism" may not be so true. And besides, very few people would really view their needs for basic health care as they would Cubs' tickets.
All of this amounts to a subtle change of subject: let's not talk about (1) the uninsured, (2) the under-insured, (3) the insured but not for long, (4) the limitations of employer-based insurance on the lives of people, (5) the devastating effects of health care related bankruptcy (for people with and without insurance), (6) the empirically verifiable existence of vastly superior systems, (7) the rationing of health care to people who pay tons for it in a "free market," and (7) much more. Let's instead talk about the glory of choices in the free market–shiny things, in other words:
Your next car can cost less if you forgo GPS, satellite radio, antilock brakes, power steering, power windows and air conditioning. You can shop for such a car at your local Studebaker, Hudson, Nash, Packard and DeSoto dealers.
Keep that in mind, folks, next time you're "free market shopping" for health care.