Many Americans see government regulation as the only way to ensure high-quality health care and broad access to medical services. It's easy to forget that an excessive regulatory burden can also cost lives by pricing people out of the health care market. According to a recent Cato Institute study by Christopher J. Conover of Duke University, health regulations in the U.S. neglect that vital injunction: "First, do no harm."
In every area Conover analyzed, he found the costs of regulation outweighed--sometimes dramatically--the benefit, amounting to a net "hidden tax" of some $169 billion annually. But the cost isn't measured only in dollars: Those added costs, Conover estimates, lead to some 22,000 deaths annually, more than the 18,000 attributed to lack of health insurance.
Graph (not available online): Health Regulation Costs and Benefits 2002 (in billions of dollars)