Free Markets and Cheating: Business as Usual

Those favoring unleashing and deregulating markets in health care should consider the July 2,  Planet Money episode – The Little Lie that Rocked the BanksMore here on July 7.

The episode involves Barclay Bank’s and likely other bank’s manipulation of the LIBOR which is the basis for lending money between banks and to consumers around the world. A little manipulation can lead to a lot of profit.

You would think that after 2007, when banks were deeply involved in the fraud and manipulation of the bank/market meltdown, that they would be scrupulously honest.   But no,  the instinct is to take advantage wherever you can.  Well you might then say “that’s the beauty of free markets.”  Find a weakness and take advantage.  But, again as in 2007,  it involves lying and cheating consumers—which sadly also appears to be part of unregulated  markets.

Medicynical Note:  Free markets are driven by the “need” to maximize return.  The game is not to provide the best service (in the LIBOR case an honestly derived interest rate) but rather to maximize return, even if you need to manipulate the “system.”  Regulation is anathema to “free markets” because it interferes with the game. 

In health care this partially explains our inefficiency and high costs.   As it is we have health insurers who do their best to not insure sick people so as to maximize return.  We have suppliers whose goal is to pad their bottom line, not benefit the health and well-being of patients.  And lastly we have a well developed non-system that allows and, in some ways, encourages conflicts of interest at every level. 

If we value health care rather than profits we need a regulated health system whose aim is universal access and affordable cost.  More here.

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