There’s an interesting article over at Spectator that details how two of the big mergers initiated in 2017 – CVS-Aetna and Amazon-Whole Foods – may be the start of the re-privatization of healthcare. Both mergers seem to be betting on a future with something different from Obamacare, though it’s very unlikely the national government will get out of the healthcare industry altogether.
That’s okay, at least as far as CVS and Amazon are concerned. If things continue heading along the trajectory of Obamacarelite or an adjusted Obamacare without an individual mandate, the two giant companies are poised to do well. If the government gets mostly out of the health insurance industry through a clean repeal of Obamacare, CVS and Amazon will hit the jackpot. Even if nothing changes, the trends towards big dollars going into healthcare means they’re worst-case-scenario is still highly profitable.
Here’s the Spectator:
Americans spend nearly $3.5 trillion annually on health care. The number rises beyond inflation, with the figure fast approaching a fifth of gross domestic product as we grow older, fatter, and more demanding. CVS and others seek to capitalize, which generally betters attempts to monopolize or subsidize or any other “ize” one can imagine.
CVS and perhaps Amazon, whose acquisition of Whole Foods earlier this year set off speculation, believes that the free market can deliver care more efficiently than the government, which, long before Obamacare, became heavily invested in health (declining lifespans two years running suggest taxpayers do not get much back on their investment).
As much as I’d love to see DC remove itself completely from the healthcare business, I’m concerned that the market, even one as big as healthcare, will be swayed too heavily by the big players. That doesn’t mean we need to keep Obamacare or replace it with Obamacarelite to prevent big healthcare companies from running rampant, but it would be nice to see a bunch more smaller players entering the fray. Obamacare has scared many from participating. If mega-companies fill the void, we may be seeing different but equally risky motivations leading us down a dark path. It isn’t the capitalism of it all that worries me. It’s the stifling of innovation from the opposite side of the spectrum, one that’s not dissimilar from the automotive industry’s quashing of alternative energy cars for decades until the demand was too high to ignore over the last decade and a half.
We need to press DC to demolish Obamacare, but we must also keep an eye on the new gatekeepers who would replace DC once they’re out. It can’t get any worse than it is… unless it can. Still, Obamacare is so bad, it’s definitely worth the risk.