Consider two distinguishing features of socialist economies. The first is that the government decides what individuals may produce, what they consume, and the terms of exchange.
That is largely true of America’s health care system. Government controls production and consumption by determining the number of physicians; what services medical professionals can offer and under what terms; where they can practice; who can open a hospital or purchase a new MRI; who can market a drug or medical device; and what kind of health insurance consumers may purchase.
Government bureaucrats even set the prices for half of our health care sector directly, and indirectly set prices for the other half. When you read about Medicare over-paying imaging centers and hospitals, or that it’s impossible for Bostonians to get an appointment with a general practitioner, it’s largely because the bureaucrats got the prices wrong, and those rigid prices do not automatically eliminate shortages and gluts like flexible market prices do.
A second feature of socialist economies is that there is little incentive to make careful economic decisions, because government has put everyone in the position of spending other people’s money.
Michael Cannon writes that the US health care system is already half socialized (and it is the half-socialized aspects, not the half-free parts, which is to blame of most of the problems in health care).