Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10. Post Prices

So this week we’ve talked about how the government has been fixing prices in healthcare for
over 50 years, and how they will be discouraging new technology with increased regulation
and oversight—technology that could potentially save lives.

So let’s consider another way—something that really will decrease the costs of healthcare
AND promote the development of technology: it’s so simple….POST PRICES.

Instead of the ridiculous system we have of all of these hidden costs and prices, let’s all just
post our prices for the services we offer. Let the patients decide what they are willing to pay
for (we talked last week about health savings accounts and hi-deductible insurance plans that
allow patients to make more decisions about their care). If your doctor recommends a test or
medication that’s too expensive, you as the patient can ask them to consider alternatives that
cost less. If your hospital charges $1000 for a CAT scan and the center 3 miles away charges
$500, guess what—you go where it’s less expensive. And we all know what happens to prices
when everyone can see them—they go down! Let good ole American competition start
working in healthcare! We could have iphone apps for the least expensive CAT scan in your
area of town. They could list reviews of the facility, with quality and satisfaction scores. As it
is, we spend more time researching our big screen television purchase than we do our major
healthcare purchases.

Doctors that I have talked to have estimated that they spend between 5 and 40% of their
overhead on complying with these price-fixing billing systems and unnecessary government
regulations. Think of how much we could decrease healthcare costs by eliminating this waste.

Now, let’s decrease corporate taxes and let our new competitive market influence the
device manufacturers and medical technology companies—now we’re talking real savings in
healthcare costs—savings that are passed onto the consumer the same way that the costs of
new taxes and government regulation are passed onto the consumer now. Think about Lasik
eye surgery: it’s not covered by insurance, prices are posted, and costs have gone from $5000
to $400 per eye over the past several years! And that includes at least 4 changes in technology
in the field during that time!

It doesn’t take a government bureaucrat to decrease healthcare costs—it takes the great
American free market system. It’s time to apply it to healthcare!

(Note: This commentary is by Dr. Jill Vecchio.)

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