Dr. Goodman’s article is a fantastic foray into the dark history organized medicine, culminating with a brutally honest assessment of the cartel that resulted. He gives a great preview of the good stuff in Greg Scandlen’s new book, Myth Busters: Why Health Reform Always Goes Awry, summarizing the oft-repeated myths we hear about healthcare economics thrown around like dogma.
“Only a few years ago, the party was united behind three reforms that are consistent with individual empowerment and limited government: (1) a universal health refund that transfers all government tax and spending subsidies to ordinary citizens each year with no strings attached other than the requirement that it be used for health care, (2) a flexible Health Savings Account that allows people to manage some of their own health care dollars and (3) pre-existing condition protection for people who lose their insurance because of government policies.
For well over a decade House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was a steadfast supporter of all three ideas, including replacing tax and spending subsidies for health care and health insurance with a universal tax credit. John McCain ran on these ideas in the 2008 election. The legislative embodiment of McCain’s plan was the Patients Choice Act, which Ryan cosponsored in 2009 along with Devin Nunes (R– CA) in the House and Tom Coburn (R–OK) and Richard Burr (R–NC) in the Senate.”
“The American Health Care Act (AHCA), proposed by the House leadership, was not about health care. It was about taxes. Over and over, Ryan said he needed to do health reform before tax reform. In particular, he said he needed to reduce Obamacare taxes by $1 trillion and to reduce spending by more than $1 trillion.As noted, a tax cut tied to health care is part of good health reform. But the Ryan tax cut wasn’t tied to health care. It consisted of repealing the very revenues that were funding Obamacare. (See below.) Since the tax cut took money out of the system, the spending cuts paired with it also removed money from the system.”
Alternatives to our current over-priced and dysfunctional health insurance market are often biased, and thus limited, by our current operational and regulatory structure. These structures are so entrenched in our healthcare psyche that it makes it difficult sometimes to set these aside in our minds while entertaining how another approach might work.
If we view all alternative plans to replace the Affordable Care Act from the vantage point of “what is”, then there is little room for anything other than attempts at further regulating the problems away. If one presupposes that the current regulatory framework remains unchanged, indeed the same framework has served to suppress the very market we wish create, then of course that market will not be created.
The dilemma facing alternative healthcare plans being considered to replace the ACA is particularly evident when it comes to the issue of selling health insurance across state lines. A brief on this subject published by the American Academy of Actuaries in February of 2017 speaks to the the main challenges facing the advent of a viable interstate market for the sale of health insurance.
Minus the introduction and Q&A, the 45 -50 minute presentation is well worth your time. Engaging delivery and compelling case to consider… the cost drivers and distortions come from HOW we access and bill, as opposed to WHAT services are actually exchanged or provided. The key to understanding healthcare costs and pricing is to acknowledge that the answer is contained within our insurance card…and the processes it dictates and the tax/regulatory environment that it operates in. It is kind of like hiding something right out in the open; we look for clues everywhere except for what’s right in front of us. We tend to point fingers at easily identifiable components but fail to see what links them.
What does the price of gasoline and the price of a chest x-ray have in common? Not much really, except the price of both have gone up in the Atlanta area recently; but the former did so for expected reasons that are predicated on behavioral economics and the relationship of demand to price. The latter went up, well, because it could.
But the sticker shock that I’ve experience lately trying to find a price on a simple chest X-ray is not due to any shortages (either perceived or real) or any sudden increase in demand. Nor was it from a sudden increase in the cost of performing an X-ray or some phenomenal increase in quality that created a better image or less radiation exposure. Nope, none of the usual factors that go into predicting price behavior were at play.