Health Care 2.0, Part 1: How to Think About Market Forces in Health Care

As Internet-driven innovation revolutionizes the U.S. economy, many have wondered: Why isn’t there an Uber of health care? Why can’t we deploy, in health care, the same forces that are improving quality and lowering costs in virtually every other sector of the economy? Health care professionals are neither dumb nor averse to new technology; the U.S. health care sector employs hundreds of thousands of people with doctorate-level scientific and medical training.

Health care-market distortions have considerably worsened since Kenneth Arrow famously described them in 1963; but in other industries less dominated by misguided government intervention, similar distortions have gradually eroded, thanks to technology, especially the rise of the Internet. The tech world is full of stories of individuals who dropped out of college to design software and hardware that changed the world; but such innovation is far less common in health care—for reasons largely determined by public policy. Each current barrier to a more innovative, competitive, affordable health care system was created for a reason; but the cumulative weight of these policies has been to make U.S. health care less innovative, less patient-centered, and less affordable.

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