Last night (August 12, 2013) on The Daily Show, the guest was Senator Ron Paul, R-KY, who had a lot to say about Obamacare" And almost all of it was wrong. Unfortunately, John Oliver, the summer host, let his chance slip by.
Senator Paul is an eye doctor; I too am a medical doctor, in family practice, and I call him out for poor understanding of economics and the realities of the business of his own profession. Reflex hammers at 20 paces.
Senator Paul's initial point was that he "felt" that Obamacare would cause the cost of medical care to rise. His evidence was that the government doesn't control the price of Lasik eye surgery or of contact lenses, and in the case of Lasik prices have come down because of competition, and in the case of contacts he had to keep prices low to compete with Walmart. Therefore, encouraging market competition for medical care will lower costs.
However, it is obvious to me that he is confusing voluntary elective medical products and procedures with necessity care. Contact lenses and Lasik have competing products; namely, corrective lenses worn in frames on the face, known as eyeglasses. A person can pick and choose where and when to have Lasik, where and when to purchase contacts. No one will lose vision if they don't get contacts within 6 hours. However, if someone is unfortunate enough to get shot in the eye with a BB gun by some neighborhood tween hooligan, there isn't time or opportunity to do consumer research on every eye doctor, anesthesiologist, or hospital in the city; The patient and family won't be comparing OR time costs, bed fees, the price of eye pads and bandages, how much lab tests cost, how much a head x-ray costs and how many are needed and how many would be done, how much for a pain pill in different postop wars, etc.
My sister-in-law recently needed her gallbladder out urgently, as she had a stone stuck in her common bile duct. Believe me, all she was interested in was analgesia, antibiotics, and early surgery at the nearest hospital.
Healthcare is no place for free market forces.