Steven Brill, author of Time’s in-depth health care analysis “Bitter Pill,” appeared on “The Daily Show” this week to discuss his opinion of Obamacare.
Brill’s work exploded his career into a love-hate relationship with Obamacare, now leading to a book. Speaking with Jon Stewart, Brill certainly made his criticisms known, but we also think he pinpointed exactly why health care just can’t work as a free market.
Brill told the story of a cancer patient forced to pay $US13,700 out-of-pocket, up-front for transfusion of a drug. And that cost only constituted part of a greater $US83,000 payment. Brill claims, however, the drug only cost the pharmaceutical company $US300.
“The cost has shifted to the taxpayers — which I think is a good thing. But it’s outrageous that we haven’t done anything to control those costs,” Brill explained.
Certain laws actually prohibit Medicare from negotiating drug prices, the Los Angeles Times has reported. President Obama, who once condemned the pharmaceutical industry, may have conceded this lobbying point to ensure the Affordable Care Act’s passage.
Stewart came back at Brill with the typical conservative argument — creating a free market for health care where patients pick-and-choose their coverage to create competition and therefore, better options.
“Everyone says, ‘Well it’s a marketplace.’ That guy [the cancer patient] has no choice in buying that drug. His doctor told him, ‘This will save your life. You don’t take it, you’re gonna die,'” Brill responded.
He further argued free markets must have two aspects — a balance between buyers and sellers and secondly, knowledge — neither of which the current U.S. system offers.
“That cancer drug has a patent. That is a monopoly that the government has given the drug company. There is no other drug. That’s the drug,” Brill said.
“It’s not like he [the cancer patient] woke up one morning and said, ‘Gee, I’d like to go shop for a cancer drug. I wonder what’s out there. And if I like it, I’ll buy it, and if I don’t, you know, I’ll buy a pair of shoes.'”
“What does a free market usually have? There’s a balance between the buyer and the seller. There is no balance now, you’ve got to buy that product.”
“In a free market, there’s also knowledge. You don’t have any knowledge. Your doctor is telling you what to buy — this cat scan and this MRI at a hospital that probably employs that doctor. So he’s got an incentive to do it.”
Watch his full interview below:
The Daily Show
The Daily Show
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