In his June 6 radio address, the president highlighted unwarranted profiteering as one of the root causes of skyrocketing health-care costs.
Later that month, he suggested a public option where we set up an insurer that isn t profit-driven, that can keep administrative costs low as one alternative.
Laced throughout the discussion on health-care reform is the oft-repeated belief that profits undermine care. In his news conference, the president went so far as to suggest that [if] your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, you know what, I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out. The implication: Doctors are unethical shysters who d do anything to make a buck, even performing unnecessary procedures.
Truth be told, the problems with American health care stem not from it being for-profit and capitalist, but from it not being capitalist enough.
As we first wrote more than two years back, health-care system in the U.S. is far from a free market. Between Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and a myriad of other public programs, it's estimated that the government already pays for nearly half the health care in this country as it is.
The insurance companies now scorned as pariahs are far from free market participants. Rather, they re highly regulated as to the type of coverage they offer, who is eligible, what plans must cover and how services are paid. Bureaucrats control virtually all aspects of health care, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and doctors themselves, determining who can prescribe medicine, how much they can charge and how livers get allocated.
If your goal is improving health care, we should want as many profit-hungry companies as possible getting into the field. Profitable companies succeed not by fleecing or exploiting their customers, but by providing an actual value and service over time. Without hesitation, we understand how Toyota (TM),
Health care is a commodity like any other. The same sort of competition to improve and expand service could be achieved within health care, but only to the extent government permits a free market to function.
The suggestion that somehow increasing regulation and decreasing the profit incentive will improve health care has not been born out anywhere in history. For example, since Congress deregulated domestic air travel in 1978, the cost of a ticket has risen some 63%. First-class postage has risen some 180% over the same period and college tuition at a public university has climbed 857%.
American health care doesn t need to be fixed it needs to be set free. That notion, unfortunately, isn t on the table at all.
A Middle Eastern Wonder
Those interested in emerging markets should note that one of the best performers over the past 52 weeks hasn t been Russia, Brazil, India, or any of the other countries beloved by the
, but tiny and often overlooked Israel. Near break-even over the past year (Many Russian stock funds are still down some 50%), strong regional companies include
) and supermarket operator
), in which my fund holds a stake.
) is the broad-based ETF that tracks the country s market names.
iShares Israel (EIS) vs. Powershares India (PIN), Ishares Brazil (EWZ) and iShares China (FXI)
Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA)
A Profitable Pilgrimage
At the time of writing, Hoenig s fund held positions in both Toyota (TM) and Blue Square Israel (BSI).>