By Bradley Lake
As the battle to reform healthcare rages on in the United States, it is important to evaluate and acknowledge the progress that has been made due to a more capitalist, free market approach to science in the United States.
The debate in Congress on the topic of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) has brought up talking points largely based on the people who “lose coverage” under the AHCA, while neglecting the prospect of implementing a freer healthcare system that promotes innovation and better healthcare provided by private entities.
Many Americans support a shift from the quasi-capitalist healthcare system to a larger government-run system. A step towards government control is a step away from the very system that continues to innovate and create better health solutions for consumers. Free market innovation still drives healthcare into the future.
In the past, the main – and nearly only – source of health information was from a doctor’s office. Now, vast amounts of health information are at the disposal of millions of consumers through websites like WebMD and Mayo Clinic. Not only does this make consumers’ lives easier, it lets doctors focus on those who need treatment more.
WebMD is the leader in healthcare applications, reaching a larger audience than any like website – private or government. With that reach, comes a big payday incentive. WebMD has been able to make millions of dollars from advertising and sponsorships.
Other organizations have been able to innovate and help more people through healthcare. MyChart is an application that connects local doctors with their patients. Through an application like MyChart, a patient can ask doctors questions, refill prescriptions, and receive treatment reminders from their doctor. It is becoming widely adopted throughout the United States and has opened the door to a more convenient, consumer-friendly healthcare system.
Like many other crucial innovations within healthcare, information technology is a response to a preference from consumers to have more information at their access. Companies like MyChart and WebMD work in harmony with local offices and pharmaceutical corporations to benefit the consumer.
Whether it be in the office, in the lab, or at home, it is evident that a free market in healthcare has given more people than ever before access to a vast network of information related to healthcare and treatment options. This ought to be rewarded rather than scorned. Any step towards a more regulated healthcare system hurts a consumer-driven market.
While the current debate is centered around those covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is little mention of the merit of the free market. There is a belief from those who support a government-run healthcare system that people will not have access to healthcare or to information without government-run organizations. This is a dangerous concept that has ramifications past the ACA. If the debate discounts the free market, the American people lose.
The evidence is clear: free markets bring greater prosperity to all individuals. Private industry has brought about technological advances in the free world, unlike any government. WebMD, MyChart, and many cures to diseases have been created by individuals working to make a profit while helping the world. Lawmakers must shift the conversation and discuss the merits of the free market. The topic needs to shift to what the government can do to help companies innovate and help the consumers. History has shown that the most effective way of doing so is by giving them all more freedom.
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