Thursday, April 19, 2012

Medical Care

The reason for the medical care crisis in America is simple.  There is no connection between the price and the product, no relation between value provided and price paid.

Before we begin any further attempt to use the government to solve problems in the medical industry that the government created, we should give the free market a chance to work.

This involves three simple new laws:

1.  Require medical care providers to provide a good faith estimate of the cost of any good, service or proceedure before providing it (unless its an emergency, obviously), publish these prices on the internet, and limit the amout they can collect to that estimate.  This would remedy the basic problem with healthcare.  If you want to see an entire medical office go insane, just do this:  Ask how much something is going to cost.  They don't know.  They have no way to find out.  You will eventually be put on the phone with someone in billing, who will tell you they can send you an estimate by mail in 2-6 weeks.  Again, this is one basic problem with the system, and it can be fixed easily.  Yes, the health care providers will squeel that providing estimates is just too hard.  Well, it seems to me that they manage to figure out the price when it comes time to charge you.  At any rate, every other industry in the world does it.  Doctors are supposed to be smart, right?  I have every confidence they can figure it out.

2.  Make it illegal for indivudual medical care providers to charge different people different amounts for the same good or service (i.e. outlaw "price discrimination").  This is already the law for almost every other industry, and is a basic rule of antitrust/anti-monopoly law.  The health care industry got Congress to give it an exemption.  This is highly inappropriate, and needs to be reversed.

3.  Make people pay a significant part of their medical bills, so they have an incentive to use the above rules to shop around.  The best solution would be to simply outlaw anything but very high deductable ($10,000+) insurance policies.  If you have socialist leanings, at least you could agree to work within the current system by implementing a sliding scale regarding copayments, so that rich people have to pay a lot of their bill, say half, while poorer people could pay a much smaller amount, say 5%.  The point is that the amount needs to be enough for the person in question to CARE how much his medical care is costing.  This would mean that we'd have to change the law to require health insurance policies to implement this type of arrangement in their policies.

That's it.  Implement these laws and give it three years.  I absoultely guarantee you the "health care crisis," defined as runnaway costs, would be over for good.