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The Hidden Hand Of The Frei Market

Via Kevin Drum, John Derbyshire at National Review Online's The Corner becomes bug-eyed at the fact that his health insurance premiums have nearly doubled without any apparent explanation.

My health insurer has just notified me, in a brief form letter, that my monthly premiums are to rise from $472.33 to $857.00 on January 1st. That's an increase of 81 percent. ***E*I*G*H*T*Y*-*O*N*E* *P*E*R*C*E*N*T*** Can they do that? I called them. They sound pretty confident they can. Ye gods!

Oh yes they can, Derb, because you free-market cultists and the useful idiots at the neo-liberal caucus have given corporate entities like privatized health care nearly free hand to do whatever they please, falsely believing that such liberties will bring us cheap and effective insurance. What was it you hammered over and over again? That the "freedom to contract" allows individuals to select health plans they believe is best for them? If the insurance company screwed you over like that, aren't you free to dump your plan and look elsewhere? Isn't it just another tenant of the Econ 101 course material influenced by the neoclassical conservatives at the Chicago School and Martin Feldstein? That "competition" will heal all wounds?

Real economists on the other hand realize that the health maintenance sector of the economy doesn't represent perfect competition and that people who shop around for cheap health premiums are highly likely to be ones that insurers find undesireable (read sick and costly) which will lead those services who actually sign up those individuals to go belly-up and leave behind health insurers who are more discriminating and more free to charge whatever health premiums they want.

But those neocons are right. Socialized medicine is only for commies, hippies and, ugh, Europeans. It has no place in this fair country.

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