Imagine if you had “grocery insurance.” You’d buy expensive foods; supermarkets would never have sales. Everyone would spend more.
Insurance coverage — third-party payment — is revered by the media and socialists (redundant?) but is a terrible way to pay for things.
Today, 7 in 8 health care dollars are paid by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance companies. Because there’s no real health care market, costs rose 467 percent over the last three decades.
By contrast, prices fell in the few medical areas not covered by insurance, like plastic surgery and LASIK eye care. Patients shop around, forcing health providers to compete.
The National Center for Policy Analysis found that from 1999 to 2011 the price of traditional LASIK eye surgery dropped from over $2,100 to about $1,700.
Source: Free Market Care – John Stossel
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.