Health care - is competition good Rx?

The June 2006 issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law is a special issue to "review and assess" the 2004 report, Improving Health Care: A Dose of Competition (pdf, 4.4MB, 361p.), produced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

From the journal's Editor's Note:
...the guiding framework for the report, and its fundamental conclusions, hewed close to norm for health policies under the Bush administration: more information and choice for consumers, stronger incentives to purchase medical care in a cost-conscious manner, less regulation, and greater effort to transform medical care into a service that more closely resembles other marketable commodities.

As the report's title suggests, a starting assumption is that the American health care system is ailing. This is not a difficult case to make. But the attribution of these shortcomings to misguided government interventions is far less compelling. And the prescription is even less compelling than the diagnosis. In most cases, the predicted benefits from making medical care markets more competitive (either by enhancing consumer information, altering incentives, or eliminating regulations) are based almost entirely on theoretical predictions about the purportedly welfare-enhancing attributes of competitive markets.
David A. Hyman, a coeditor of this special issue, was the project leader and principal author of the FTC/DOJ report.

Abstracts of the articles may be accessed from the website.

The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, published by Duke University Press, is in the serials collection of the Library and is available for borrowing.



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