Health care should not be deemed a commodity
Should health care be designated a commodity or a public good? Examples of public goods are sidewalks, public schools and national defense, i.e., facilities and services that are accessible and of benefit to everyone.
Historically, we have considered health care a commodity purchased and sold in the marketplace. As such, it is subject to the vagaries of the marketplace – shortages and surpluses, winners and losers. Here, however, gains and losses are measured not only in dollars but more importantly in human suffering and lives.
The purpose of market regulation is to reduce or limit market volatility and the risks of market participants. Following the 2008 market crash, regulations were promulgated designed to prevent future crises. But many of these have been recently rescinded. Similarly, regulations designed to protect participants in the Affordable Care Act have been eliminated or weakened in the recently passed House GOP health bill.
We do not live in a perfect world. A survey of extant health care systems in industrialized nations clearly demonstrates that a single-payer system, accessible to all, offers the most efficient quality care at the lowest per capita cost.
Hans G. Reif