December 9, 2009

Jim O’Neill – Health Innovation at the Frontier

Jim O’Neill’s talk at the 2009 Seasteading Conference is available online:

Jim O’Neill asks: What if you were shopping for an electronic music player, and when you asked about the features, compatibility, and price of the ones you liked, you were repeatedly told that this information is privileged and not available to any consumer?

This scenario obviously doesn’t describe the vibrant and innovative electronics industry which enjoys strong competition and minimal regluation; but it does describe the health industry in the United States and in much of the world. O’Neill points out that these conditions in fact put the health industry into an effective cartel system, and as health care is protected from the market forces that drive innovation and service in our country, “people are suffering very significant health consequences that in a free market they would not suffer.”

In his succinct and foundational presentation, O’Neill performs the work of interpretation of free-market and libertarian theory for the health industry, demonstrating the dramatic differences between today’s conditions, which encourage obesity and chronic health diseases and artificially drive up prices, and the ideal free market system in which health care providers must improve services and keep costs down to effectively compete for consumers, and consumers are far more incentivized to invest in preventative care for their health and the health of their children.

Under the ideal conditions of a vibrant health industry and a free market for governments, currencies, and health services among seasteads, O’Neill makes a strong case for why he believes, “The healthiest societies in 2030 will most likely be on the sea.”