Saturday, March 17, 2007

Swiss reject health care monopoly

Left-wing groups in Switzerland tried to force through a measure, by referendum, that would abolish competition between health care insurers. Under Swiss law residents are required to purchase health insurance but are free to pick any policy offered between 87 different companies.

The Leftist Mouvement Populaire des Families gathered 110,000 signatures to force a vote on their measure. They were supported by the Left-wing Social Democrats and various trade unions. Under the measure all insurance policies would be monopolized under one plan. Apparently these groups don’t mind monopolies as long as they create them and they clearly don’t favor freedom of choice for consumers.

Consumers, also known as voters, didn’t find this new plan very appealing. They rejected it with 71% voting against it.

The proponents said the new plan of single-payer would drive down health costs. Of course driving down health costs is easy for a single payer program. First, deny expensive treatment to patients entirely. Reduce, options and cut out certain types of care and medications. That policy alone accounts for much of the “savings” that socialized systems offer.

The second method of “saving” is to cut salaries of health care workers to below market levels. This technically doesn’t cut health costs as it merely transfers costs from taxpayers in general to the health workers instead. The downside of this is that you find health workers seeking employment in countries that don’t penalize them for working in this field.

The first proven method of cutting costs reduces the amount of health care. The second proven method of cutting costs reduces the numer of health care workers. Anyone can cut costs by offering less.

Cross posted at Liberty and Medicine.

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