Two weeks ago The Republican Journal ran, alongside my column, a guest column by first-term Second District Congressman Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, in which he trumpeted “free-market solutions to ObamaCare.”

I assume Poliquin was talking about the same vaunted free market that has consistently failed to produce anything remotely resembling quality, comprehensive health care at anything remotely approaching a reasonable, affordable cost to anything remotely resembling the entire population.

The same vaunted free market that has relegated this country to number 37 on the World Health Organization's list of the world's best healthcare systems, just behind Costa Rica, and well behind such vastly wealthy nations as Colombia, Morocco and Portugal. France is number one on the list, and, according to the World Bank, we spend fully 47 percent more of our GDP on health care than does France. And even then Poliquin's free market system doesn't cover all citizens, as France's system does, and it saddles the rest of us with onerous co-pays, deductibles and limits on coverage. The free market's persistent failure to cover all citizens forces the uninsured into the wildly expensive arms of emergency rooms that then send the bill to you and me.

In his column, Poliquin slings mud at Obamacare without actually calling for its outright elimination. One gets the impression he wants to have it both ways, play to the anti-government crowd but ever-mindful of polls that show consistent, solid support for Obamacare. But Poliquin's website is clearer: He wants the popular program scrapped.

One almost has to admire a man like Poliquin for his willingness to chuck the rest of us over the side of the healthcare boat. As a congressman, Poliquin makes a tidy $174,000 a year at taxpayer expense, which alone, not counting any other income he and his family may have, puts him ahead of 86 percent of his fellow Americans. And he and his family have access to the federal government employee healthcare system, which is subsidized by you guessed it you and me. And just in case that's not enough, he also has access to a special healthcare system just for members of Congress. Nice.

For the rest of us, the wealthy Poliquin proposes the tender mercies of his vaunted free market while he goes about the hard work of fighting any increase in the minimum wage.

I have the Obamacare with which Poliquin finds so much fault. And I too opposed it when it was first rolled out. In fact the New York Times printed a letter from me to that effect. I was opposed to the idea of forcing the uninsured to purchase the free market's deeply flawed and grossly overpriced health insurance policies.

And I am still opposed to Obamacare, but for reasons that are very different from Poliquin's. I oppose it because it leaves squarely in place an extremely expensive, predominantly private healthcare system that transfers vast sums of wealth from workers, the poor, the working poor and the middle class to the system's CEOs and stockholders. As a guest on Democracy Now once said, we don't have a healthcare system; we have, by and large, a profit-generating system that just happens to be in the business of health care.

Despite some commendable Obamacare features, such as mandated coverage of certain ailments which Poliquin opposes health care in this country is still based largely on a system that rewards private insurance companies for denying coverage. A healthcare system that rewards failure to treat. That makes no sense. But that's free market health care, and Poliquin supports it and supports its expansion.

Our chaotic, byzantine and extremely expensive healthcare system, with its army of insurance companies, requires legions of billers whose only job is to figure out which company to bill, how to bill it, and for how much. This mess is the direct result of leaving health care in the hands of Bruce Poliquin's free market. And this mess is costing us dearly. It is a five-gallon IV slung around the neck of the economy. A car produced in Detroit carries with it twice as much in healthcare costs as a car produced in Japan. That puts Detroit at a considerable disadvantage.

And despite Obamacare, the absence of free, comprehensive health care is a disaster for far too many seniors who have worked hard all their lives. It leaves them out in the cold and far too often forces them to choose between rent, food, heat and vital prescription drugs. That is Poliquin's free market.

Obamacare is good to me personally. For the first time in 10 years I have health care coverage. Thanks to Obamacare, I was able to have a colonoscopy, recommended for men my age. Without Obamacare, I would not have had it, and would have run the risk of undetected colon cancer which might ultimately have proven very expensive for taxpayers. After experiencing a sudden and extremely painful headache I was able to have an MRI-MRA, which could have detected another ailment that might have proven very expensive to taxpayers.

If I were to pay for my health insurance all by myself, without the aid of Obamacare, it would swallow fully 41 percent of my income, leaving me precious little for food, housing, transportation, clothing and other basic necessities. With France paying 11.6 percent of GDP for comprehensive and far superior health care, 41 percent of income for health care is as ridiculous as it is wrong and scandalous.

But Obamacare is not the ideal solution for this country's ample and persistent healthcare woes. That prize goes squarely and solely to a comprehensive, single-payer national health care system. But Obamacare, as flawed as it is, is far better than the increased dose of the free market disaster prescribed by Poliquin.

Lawrence Reichard is a freelance writer living in Belfast.