My Sunday column. Comment here.
From the comments thus far posted after the column, some points:
1. Yes, third-party payers drive up costs. I've yet to see the “free market solution” that drives up access. Costs are lower — much lower — in other countries with universal access. None of them have free-market systems. Most of the reforms I've seen retain the third-party system (you get coverage from employer, who gets it from insurers. They make deals on what will be covered). Government tax policy drives this system, yet it has avoided the moniker “government run.” Drop the tax break and see how fast your employer drops your coverage.
2. Costs are going up because the boomers are getting old. Surely, that's part of it, especially as it relates to Medicare. But costs were going up before they reached that age. Why? Those same forces remain in place with the repeal of reform. In time, this boomer bow wave will pass. Think prices will go down at that point?