Government health care monopoly–not in consumers’ interests

dmvRegina Herzlinger, chair of Harvard Business School, in National Review takes on health care and the Obama Administration’s arguments that a government-run plan would increase competition, provide more choice, and lead to greater cost efficiencies:

But before we get swept away, let us remember that these health-insurance markets would be monopolies run by government, two characteristics that normally do not enhance consumer welfare. Picture the efficiency of your Division of Motor Vehicles, for example.

Also consider government-run monopoly liquor stores. Despite their ability as the single payer to extract better volume discounts from wholesalers than private liquor chains can, their prices are not lower than private stores’. Additionally, they slight consumers through shorter operating hours, inconvenient locations, limited brand availability, and inadequate advertising. By forcing consumers to adjust their shopping habits, they raise prices through loss of time. Although some advocates hope that these features limit liquor consumption, this is not the case.

The results attained by government-run health-insurance markets in Massachusetts and the Netherlands provide equally cautionary evidence: Such markets limit competition, do not control costs, discourage entrepreneurial efforts, and thus cause consumer dissatisfaction.