Health care overregulation kills

Americans now consistently tell poll takers that health insurers, managed-care corporations and pharmaceutical makers are the least trustworthy organizations in the U.S. They point to HMO patients denied payment for life-saving treatments, and Big Pharma’s fierce lobbying to kill state/federal price negotiations and re-importation of drugs from Canada.

Now the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-headquartered think tank committed to seeking free-market solutions to major sociological issues, is pointing at an unrecognized villain in America’s health care mess. The PRI’s latest study, “U.S. Index of Health Ownership,” makes a case that “gross overregulation” inflates health costs to the tune of $169.1 billion per year — an average of $1,500 per family yearly.

Even more disturbing, the excessive health care regulations and mandates are accused of actually causing the deaths of some 22,000 Americans a year, 4,000 more than the 18,000 annual deaths attributed to lack of health insurance. These PRI figures are primarily collated from papers done by professors in major universities, including the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley.

The “Index of Health Ownership” bolsters its argument by showing examples of how restrictions of free choice can lower the quality or accessibility of health care for patients: A disabled Medicaid beneficiary still able to live in his or her home might be required to use only a nursing aide assigned by the state, even if he or she prefers a different aide at the same cost. Or a nurse practitioner is unable to establish a low-cost clinic offering treatments she is authorized to provide, because state law requires her to be closely supervised by an M.D.

In other PRI examples: A group of surgeons is ready to invest in a clinic where they will perform only operations they specialize in, but the local acute-care hospital invokes state regulations blocking the competition. A privately insured individual wants to buy a low-premium catastrophic coverage policy while also starting a tax-exempt health savings account, but this option is unavailable under state insurance rules.

Among the 50 states, California health choice is squarely in the middle of the pack. Utah, Nebraska and Delaware are ranked the top three overall. Their residents appear to enjoy relatively low premiums and fees, along with a smaller percentage of uninsured. The three bottom-ranked states are New York, Vermont and New Jersey, with costly, baroquely overregulated systems with almost completely uncompetitive prices.

Interest groups benefiting from governmental interference lobby hard for their preferred policies. The PRI reportis realistic enough to recognize that its findings are counterintuitive to prevailing public thinking, and that government is unlikely to loosen its grasp on the half of health care spending it now directly disburses. The institute’s hope is that its report will help open the way for genuinely market-oriented reforms leading to better health care across America.

General OpinionOpinion

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden issues call for ‘unity’ amidst extreme partisan rancor

‘I will be a president for all Americans,’ he says in inauguration speech

From left, Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden inaugurated as 46th president as Trump era comes to an end

Todd Spangler Detroit Free Press Taking over the reins of government at… Continue reading

San Francisco City Hall is lit in gold and amber to remember victims as part of a national Memorial to Lives Lost to COVID-19 on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco joins national COVID memorial ceremony

San Francisco took part Tuesday in the first national Memorial to Lives… Continue reading

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
With executive orders, Biden to reverse Trump policies on environment, immigration

Evan Halper Los Angeles Times President-elect Joe Biden will move swiftly to… Continue reading

Private vehicles were banned from much of Market Street in January 2020, causing bike ridership on the street to increase by 25 percent and transit efficiency by as much as 12 percent. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board approves new Better Market Street legislation

Advocates say traffic safety improvements don’t go far enough to make up for lost bikeway

Most Read