Fixing Healthcare Right

Houston ChroniclePresident Donald Trump on Thursday called for an end to "surprise medical bills," the astonishingly high charges insured patients can face when a member of a medical team that treats them is not in their insurer's network.

"Not a pleasant surprise," Trump said of bills that arrive in the mail and run to tens of thousands of dollars. "A very unpleasant surprise."

What will this do to the health care industry? Force them to compete on price. As always, much depends on the details of the legislation, but the basic idea -- forcing health care providers to publish their prices in advance, and perhaps getting rid of hugely disproportionate out-of-network costs (especially in emergency situations) -- is very sound and will allow people to choose where they go based on the expected price rather than being at the mercy of a mystery bill they don't know ahead of time and usually can't negotiate.

I've also heard of cases where people go to small, local "urgent care" facilities that are very definitely not hospitals... but charge like you went to the emergency room at a hospital. That's an outright scam that is enabled only by the lack of price transparency.

Will this solve everything? Probably not. But it's a start at applying market forces to the health care market, something that market has long been insulated from.

To see how this might work, look at procedures like Lasik. Such procedures compete on price. And the price has been going down, not up, even while technologies and techniques improved.

This entry was published Sun May 12 06:47:21 CDT 2019 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2019-05-12 06:47:21.0. [Tweet]

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