Free and Fair Market? Not if it is Health Insurance in Idaho


Imagine you live in a world where you can only buy food, gas, and other supplies for your family a few months out of the year. This is not due to bad weather, a workers strike, or a terrorist attack somewhere in the world. You might think this makes no sense. After all, these goods are crucial to the survival and well-being of you and your family. But guess what? That’s exactly how buying health insurance operates through Idaho’s health exchange.

Imagine you live in a world where the price of something is based on how much money you earn. You might think, “Well, how do I know how much I can buy of the goods I need?” Good question. Another problem that came with Idaho accepting federal rules over the buying and selling of health insurance. And, by the way, federal rules many argue go against three U.S. Supreme Court decisions – including the infamous “Obamacare decision.”

If I’m selling health insurance to you through Idaho’s health exchange, then my answer to what price you’ll actually pay will be something like that the average buyer pays “X Dollars” based on the amount of federal subsidies they receive. Really? With all due respect to Your Health Idaho, our state government, and the federal government, that answer – which they imposed on you and your family – is not in keeping with a free and fair market.

To top it off, the price of health insurance keeps rising. And yet, Your Health Idaho boasts at the increase in choice. In a free market, more competitors brings more choice at lower prices; NOT higher prices. It is only when government entangles a market with excessive rules OR its participants engage in some form of anti-trust (or other methods of cheating) that stops prices from falling. This is why markets like education, healthcare, housing, and health insurance keep seeing higher prices, while free markets display lower prices. The sad reality policymakers fail to appreciate is that continually higher prices make it harder for families to make ends meet.

“No no,” says the supporter of Idaho’s health exchange, “you forgot about the subsidies people get.” Wrong. Those subsidies come from taxes that could fund other government needs; could pay off government debt; or, heaven forbid, could be used by consumers to buy, save, or invest.

Moreover, because of the subsidies, insurance companies can charge more knowing the subsidy will disguise some of that higher price. This will make it look like the product is cheaper than it really is. If we want a company to have to compete, force that company to offer more at a lower price, and don’t allow the company to hide the price. A free market must operate this way. And it is that pressure on companies to keep having to offer more at a lower price that has gotten more people out of poverty than any other economic system known to man.

For some, how government gets away with violating the free market in healthcare insurance, especially when there are market alternatives that would be cheaper if left alone may be a mystery. To me, it says more about a dysfunctional political system and intrusive politicians that meddle and harm people. The free market is not the problem; it’s the solution.