Kevin Drum is lauding the transparency an Oregon health insurance exchange which was initiated some apparently welcome price competition into a market for now standardized products. My response was this:
I applaud any effort by this Administration and others to improve the transparency of pricing in the medical field. I would have more confidence, though, if all of you folks were not pushing for 100% pre-paid medical plans that will essentially eliminate price-shopping by individuals, and in so doing effectively eliminate the enormous utility of prices. Prices will soon be meaningful for one thing -- insurance -- in the health care field and absolutely meaningless for everything else in the field.
By the way, at the same time you are improving competition on price, you are eliminating by fiat all competition on features (e.g. what is covered, what deductible I want, etc). This "success" is like the government mandating one single cell phone design, and then crowing how much easier shopping is for consumers because there is now only one choice. A simple world for consumers is not necessarily a better world. I am sure Medieval peasants had a very simple shopping experience as well.