When Soviet Russian President Boris Yeltsin visited the United States in 1989, one of the sites he visited was an American grocery store in Houston, Texas. 1
As one of the privileged upper echelon of the Soviet Russian political elite, Yeltzin was nevertheless astounded by the sheer abundance and quality of food available not only to the wealthy and privileged of American society, but to average Americans at a typical US food store.
It was a paradigm shift for the Soviet leader. A product of generations of communist anti-Western indoctrination and propaganda, Yeltzin could hardly believe what abundance was created by the so-called “evil and greedy” forces of capitalism and a free market in America.
If the starving Russian men, women, and children could ever experience what he saw here in America, he stated to his visiting comrades, there would surely be another Russian revolution.
The Fruits of Freedom
The first Russian revolution was driven in large part by the poverty and desperation of a population dominated and ruled absolutely by royalty in czarist Russia. Yet even after 70 years of enforced egalitarianism under the Marxist-Leninist rubric of communism and absolute state control of all economic activity and production, most Soviet citizens in 1989 still waited for hours daily in lines, just to purchase a loaf of bread – if one were available.
In contrast, American stores have always been, and still are, stuffed to overflowing with not only fresh-baked bread, but foods of all kinds from all parts of the world, at prices even the poorest can afford.
To what do we owe this cornucopia of abundance? Nothing less than a free market. Free markets and private property protections make all the difference in both abundance and affordability.
Freedom in Health Care
If a free market is able to produce such abundance and quality in the most basic of human needs – food – then why not in every other human endeavor, including the provision of health care?
In his book “The Price We Pay – What Broke American Health Care, And How To Fix It“ 2 , bestselling author Dr. Marty Makary MD describes how heart bypass operations in the the United States (with equal outcomes) can range in cost from $30,000 to $150,000 depending where you go.
He also found a similar range in pricing for joint replacement surgical procedures. Additionally, many of the institutions he surveyed refused to disclose their pricing, so the range of prices charged for the same procedure could indeed have been much more.
With such a range of prices, it can pay to shop around. In some countries outside the U.S., the same procedures listed above were found to cost as little as $15,000.
Sadly, Dr. Makary’s research reveals that much of American health care has become characterized by price gouging, self-serving middlemen (e.g. – many health care administrators, pharmaceutical reps, medical suppliers, and even some helicopter companies), as well as by frequent inappropriate and/or unnecessary care being rendered – at exorbitant prices.
The Medical Industry Complex
This “medical and insurance industry complex” is not at all unlike the “military industrial complex” of which President Eisenhower famously warned in his farewell presidential address in 1961, or the “administrative deep state” that plagues us at all levels of government today.
This deceptive culture and industry collusion has been enabled and perpetrated in part by a widespread lack of price transparency in health care. Many people have found this out too late, leading to bankruptcy and/or being sued for an inability to pay such overly inflated prices not covered by insurance.
It’s as if someone were to offer to mow your lawn, refused to quote you a price first, then sends you a bill for $15,000 three months later.
As another example, most of us would hardly be comfortable eating at a restaurant at which prices were not provided on the menu.3 How would we be expected to properly choose the best option that fit our appetite AND our ability to pay?
Do We Need “Food Insurance”?
It’s interesting – and disturbing – to ponder what our food might cost if we purchased and paid for it in the same way as we now purchase and pay for our health and medical care.4
Consumer protection laws have long been in place requiring, for example, funeral directors to fully disclose their charges in advance (to our loved ones who are usually the ones who will end up paying for our funeral) before the funeral takes place.
Yet ironically, at this time the same legal protections for those of us faced with living health care and medical/surgical costs, do not for the most part similarly exist.5 We go to the doctor for an exam, diagnosis and treatment plan, or enter the hospital for surgery, and then must wait for the bill to arrive to know what it all is going to cost us.
Thankfully, increased price transparency for health care is coming, and promises to be a huge revolution and paradigm shift for health care consumers. 6
Organizations like the Free Market Medical Association are a great tool and advocate for individuals who want greater transparency of care costs throughout the United States. 7
Such transparent and discounted care can include just about any surgery and even skilled physical therapy care. In practice, it is becoming another form of Internet online shopping, where you can find out where the best cost vs value vs outcomes can be obtained, BEFORE you agree to services.
Choosing To Live Free
Already, many businesses who are self-insured are already saving millions of dollars by researching and tapping into better prices available to them through directly contracting with cash-based health care providers for services for their employees.
Our greatest God-given right is our freedom to choose those products or services that are best for us in our situation, that best satisfy our needs and wants, at a price we feel we can afford.
This is no less true in health care, than it is in food production, or car production, or home building. A free market excels in offering choices AND lowering prices. Economic competition in a free market drives down costs, increases efficiency, provides better outcomes, and increases customer satisfaction.
A free market, transparent pricing, healthy competition, and the consumer’s right to choose have always been among the greatest drivers of American freedom and prosperity. Given the chance, and freed from the heavy-handed one-size-fits-all regulatory restrictions and price-fixing of the government-insurance complex, they can provide those things again in even greater number.
As things stand today, our current system of insurance-based health care is simply not sustainable. Nor are proposals for full-fledged socialized medicine, run and supposedly paid for by government.
A Culture of Freedom
This is not a partisan issue. It is not (and should not be) a Democrat vs. Republican issue. This is an issue impacting each and all us. The “secret sauce” of American prosperity is and always has been freedom. It is up to us.
Consider how restoring and promoting real freedom into the culture of the health care health care marketplace will have in providing more options, better outcomes, and more affordable prices.
Think of the huge difference this would make in your life or the life of someone you love.
Reclaim your health care freedom today!
Dr. Voigt Smith is the owner of Backsmith Advanced Physical Therapy LLC in Weston, Wisconsin and is a member of the Free Market Medical Association. For more information he can be contacted at (715) 298-5888 or at his website www.BacksmithPhysicalTherapy.com/contact-us .
 Makary, Marty, “The Price We Pay-What Broke American Health Care-and How to fix it”, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019; pages 15-35
 Makary, Marty, “The Price We Pay-What Broke American Health Care-and How to fix it”, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019; page 35