We welcome this important debate, which is unfolding at a critical political juncture. Dr Berdine’s counterpoint has usefully broadened our discussion beyond the issue of single payer to the larger question of the role of the free market in health care.
Dr Berdine argues that in an unhindered competitive health-care marketplace, the market will clear at a price and quantity of goods/services that, as if by definition, leaves all parties maximally satisfied. This argument is little more than a tautology that would, if possible, result in a health-care dystopia that society would not accept. Low-income individuals might “choose” to spend their money on food instead of asthma inhalers. By Dr Berdine’s logic, this scenario is as it should be, and any intervention by government would only make things worse. Those dying of status asthmaticus might beg to differ, if they were able, as might patients with hypertension who suffer strokes because they elected to cover their rent instead of paying for physician visits.