Guest Post from Dr. Claire Coco
We don’t have free market conditions:
- Health insurance is required.
- Insurers are required to cover certain levels of care.
- Pricing is not transparent.
That is the formula for high prices. First we saw it with hospital and urgent care. Now we are seeing it with prescriptions and labs.
While shifting the cost to the patients seems reprehensible it also has the effect of waking the sleeping giant. People are having to pay a LOT more now and they are grumbling about it. But unfortunately when the policy makers look at a fix they either want to regulate the price or force the insurer to pay.
Price transparency is the key.
When a patient is told they can pay $4 or $350 for a similar drug they choose the $4. But when the insurance company makes the same decision the patients get into an uproar. And when insurers are required to pay they pass the cost down through premiums (which they are also legally doing since they are guaranteed a 15% profit with U-ACA).
Those not paying don’t care about the price tag. It is not a free market when some use the company checkbook (or Uncle Sam’s) to pay these bills while the rest of us suckers use our savings accounts. (Not HSA, I mean kid’s college, rainy day, hard won, real money, personal savings).
This is not a free market.
Claire Coco, MD
(I know, preaching to the choir).