Letter: Free enterprise not the problem with health care
Last week, Dr. James Kenley complained (Readers Write, Sept. 23) about profit-seeking insurance companies. I would like to take this opportunity to remind readers that many years ago, the American Medical Association teamed up with federal regulators to control the number of medical colleges and how many students they would accept each year.
Ostensibly, this was done with the intent to insure quality. It was actually a successful effort by doctors to create a medical cartel and limit the quantity of physicians. As any high school economics student knows, when you limit the quantity of something, the price goes up.
I’m sure Dr. Kenley is enjoying his salary; as American physicians with the protection of their cartel are enjoying the highest average doctor salaries in the world—almost twice the next highest country, Germany. And while we are talking about competition, let me also mention that Virginia, like all states, limits the number of hospitals by requiring a "certificate of need" before allowing a hospital to be built, effectively reducing competition among hospitals. I’m sure the doctor cartel likes that also.
And let me also mention that Virginia, like other states, does not allow out-of-state insurance companies to sell health insurance in Virginia, again limiting competition and driving up costs. One of the few things the federal government was and is supposed to do is to use the Commerce clause of the Constitution to stop states from doing that sort of thing.
Dr. Kenley, the free enterprise system is not the problem with our medical system; it is government-protected cartels, government regulations and government restrictions that are driving up the cost of health care.