There are three major problems with our healthcare system. All deal with market competition. One is the failure of our government and healthcare providers to bring cash back to the market. Second, is the failure of the government to allow the interstate purchase of health insurance (buying healthcare in other states). Third, is the failure of the healthcare providers to provide a readily accesible and understandable fee schedule.
As to the first point, I just received my benefits summary from my health insurance company today. A typical physical was billed at $744 to United Healthcare. This is for just a physical, my lab work was completed by a third party, Lab Corp. Some of the blame is on the medical provider, some is on the insurance companies. However, I blame most of it on the government. Why? Because the government has yet again, with the passage of Obamacare, failed to provide a real competition based cost cutting system. They failed to bring cash back into the healthcare market on a b/w patient and doctor basis. Bringing cash back into the market b/w doctor’s and patients would increase price competition among doctors, and therefore prices would go down. Why? Because if I am a doctor, and I have a cash paying customer, I charge them less than the insurance company. I have seen it happen many times before. The doctor sees the big insurance company and automatically overcharges. This system is siphoning wealth from patients to doctor’s at an alarming rate. Citizens pay premiums, insurance companies profit, medical providers overcharge, and then often individuals still have to pay co-pays and deductibles. Granted, many medical plans give discounts for using in-network doctors, such as mine. But still $744, and that is just for the doctor. I have not even received my Lab Corp bill yet.
Second, opening up the health insurance purchasing market on an interstate basis would foster competition also. Allowing potential policyholders to shop nationwide, rather than just in their state would allow purchasers a bigger market, with more providers. That is the essence of competition. More products choices, allowing potential policyholders to search, complete benefit comparisons, and cost comparisons on a nationwide basis rather than only for the healthcare insurance providers in their state. Of course that would give up most of the regulating power of the healthcare insurance industry back to the states, which is never gonna happen with this federal government.
Third, other professionals in highly regulated markets, such as lawyers, are required to provide up front, clients with, for example, costs per hour. Prices for simple procedures, such as blood draws, typical physicals, etc. should be readily available via websites, on view in the waiting areas of doctor’s offices, etc. This would only help competition and drive prices down because individuals would be able to make informed cost decisions about their healthcare provider. Many may go to providers who offer services cheaper than other doctors, and hopefully those other doctors charging higher rates would eventually lower their prices starting a process of continually decreasing prices for these simple procedures.