One of the major criticisms of the United States healthcare system is the exorbitant costs associated with almost every medical procedure. Proponents of letting the free market solve healthcare problems often mistaken the United States healthcare system for a free market healthcare system. This mistaken belief leads them to defend the American healthcare system. When asked to justify the extremely high costs of healthcare in the United States these people often claim such costs are necessary to provide quality technology. These people forget to mention that cheaper alternatives are actively suppressed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whose high certification costs ensure cheaper alternatives never get approval. Thankfully this isn’t the case in every country. Even in a supposedly communist country such as China cheaper alternatives to expensive medical technology aren’t strictly prohibited:
When a devastating accident with a homemade fishing bomb destroyed both of Sun Jifa’s hands, the farmer from Jilin province in Northern China couldn’t afford the expensive prosthetics provided by the hospital. Faced with a family to take care of and rudimentary prostheses that made it impossible to do farm work, Sun began an eight-year quest to design and build his own bionic arms using whatever materials he had available. After a series of prototypes built from pulleys, wires, and scrap metal, Sun settled on a final design that proved so successful that amputees in neighboring towns have been clamoring to buy them. In this video from New Tang Dynasty Television, Sun reveals that he’s already sold 1,000 of the arms at around $490 US apiece, turning his personal catastrophe into a prosperous family business.
The primary reason healthcare costs so much in the United States is due to protectionism. Politically connected corporations are protected by small competitors through state-created barriers to entry such as FDA approval requirements. When such restrictions are absent small competitors can offer alternatives to expensive technologies.