Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Simple Solution to Health Care Costs

Health care costs are rising at a blistering pace. I have a solution that will slow them down.

It's a novel idea, really. I call it "telling people how much a service costs when asked." All I want is a law that says a medical institution is required to provide pricing information when asked. I don't care if it's a 10,000 page document written in micro-print. I JUST want ACCESS to pricing when I ask for it.

Seriously. If you've never asked your doctor or hospital how much a procedure, action, shot, treatment, visit or test will cost, you should give it a try some time. Cuz here's the thing...they don't know. In fact...they look at you strange for even asking.

I'm no genius. But imagine an open market industry that's effectively a monopoly, has infinite demand, and isn't required to disclose price prior to purchase even when asked...I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that a such an industry will invariably have wildly uncontrolled price escalation FOREVER.

Maybe if we're hell bent on having a privately run health care system, we should make sure simple economic principles apply to Them Too.

Somebody out there might say "Oh but you have no idea about the complexity of treatment and how difficult it would be to actually GIVE pricing on a case by case basis..."

Indeed. Billing may be involved and difficult and yet, curiously, the billing departments invariably manage to tabulate a bill. Somehow they manage to determine: A) What was done to you and B) How much all that costs. So it's not like I'm asking for the impossible. It's not like billing is scribed cuneiform in clay tablets buried under a mountain. Today we have these wonderful things called Computers with breakneck connections that pass information as though it were the wind.

Calling up a price point for any given action is absolutely within the realm of possibility. I don't have much sympathy for the argument that it would time consuming and difficult. Shelling out money for any medical procedure at all is time consuming and difficult for the consumer. It's time for the medical industry to act like the free market system it is and take on the risks rather than shoving them off on the end consumer.

Though it's no secret the insurance companies have been the only winners in this lousy game

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