How do markets work?

I encounter reports of lots of people who say that if ObamaCare is repealed, x millions of people will have no health care. How is this so? That the government stopped providing food would not mean that the people would have no food; that the government stopped providing schooling would not mean that people would have no schooling; and so forth. People talk about health care as if it were simply unthinkable that it might be provided through markets, as the bulk of food, housing, clothing, and other basic goods and services are provided.

I used to tell people that if a so-called old-growth tree were cut down, the resident so-called northern spotted owl would fly away and make a nest in a younger tree nearby, rather than stupidly going down with the ship. Likewise, if the government did not distribute health care via a complex, convoluted system of so-called insurance and rigged markets for drugs, doctors’ services, hospital services, and so forth, real markets could handle the provision of these goods. We get food, shelter, and clothing and most other things from (semi) free markets. We could get healthcare services the same way. Dr. Robert Higgs

“The only freedom deserving the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.” — John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).

Moving towards single payer food insurance

Isn’t it high time that the USA adopted a single-payer system of food insurance. After all, nothing is more important than food; no one can survive more than a few days without eating. Leaving the provision of food to the whims and caprices of the free market is simply a recipe for malnutrition and starvation. And obviously the poor and the minorities have very little access to food under horse-and-buggy market arrangements.

Under the proposed system, the government would establish a National Feeding System (NFS) to which everyone would be required to belong and make premium payments. Everyone engaged in producing and distributing food would be drafted into the system. Whenever anyone got hungry, he would present himself to a licensed provider, who would be authorized to provide stipulated types of food, the costs of which would be billed to the NFS at prices the agency had established. Only foods the NFS had found to be necessary for the individual eater would be provided and their costs reimbursed.

This system would permit great reductions in administrative costs. Unnecessary duplication (e.g., 75 different kinds of breakfast cereal, 27 different kinds of yogurt, etc.) would be eliminated. The poor, at long last, would all get adequate food; the rich would get the same food, thereby ensuring equity and equal dignity at the dinner table. Farm organizations would no longer be required, because all farmers would be organized into vast collective farms where government managers would ensure that only the best methods, seeds, fertilizers, and so forth were used, according to strict government requirements based on settled science.

Would not this arrangement be a huge improvement over the anarchy of the present means of food supply and distribution? What could possibly go wrong? ~ Dr. Robert Higgs