I've been thinking more about the health care/insurance article I linked to yesterday and I want to add one qualification to my general agreement with the authors. They write in their conclusion:

Finally, we must repeal HIPAA and all other government regulations involving health insurance or medical care. It is immoral for doctors to be subject to criminal penalties for documentation errors that violate no rights and have nothing to do with the quality of patient care. ...

As I considered the article, the phrase I bolded above stood out to me. I won't defend HIPAA, but I don't agree that "all other government regulations involving health insurance or medical care" should be eliminated. In particular, I think a very important role of government is to mandate transparency from experts in the commercial sector. There's no way that I as a health care consumer can ever know as much as the doctors who treat me, but the final decision for any treatment I undergo still lies with me and not with them. To that end, the government should require the disclosure of treatment information from medical professionals.

I'm thinking of a medical equivalent of the nutrition information that's mandated on food packaging. I don't want the government to tell me how many Fritos I can eat, but if it weren't for government-enforced transparency I wouldn't know what goes into Fritos and I wouldn't be able to make an informed decision about how many to eat. The government already requires drug manufacturers to disclose the potential side-effects of their products (do we need them in every commercial though?) and I think there should be similar transparency in other medical arenas.

It is a legitimate role for government to prevent experts from harming or defrauding consumers with their information advantage.

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