Do we want a free health care market?

March 18, 2012 by  

Then why have common sense reforms that will produce one been opposed, defeated and/or vetoed at the Legislature for the last 2 years – even with a Republican Governor and Republican supermajority?

The short answer is swarms of  lobbyists.  The longer answer is Legislators succumbing to lobbyists on issues that should be very clear.

Case in point:  this week, after passing the Senate the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday had an opportunity to move SB 1384 to a full vote of the House.  Unfortuntately, Republicans on the committee kept the bill from getting there.  Watch the video of the hearing.  Fast forward to the 1 hour 40 minute timeframe.

SB 1384 is a health care price disclosure bill - ensuring patients a transparent price for the most common procedures when paying directly – with cash or handling any insurance paperwork themselves if they have a Medical Savings Account.  See a recent KPHO Channel 5 piece on the issue.

Consider the facts:  Half of all health care spending originates from government and 90% involves a 3rd party payer.

As employers seek to lower their health care costs, many are offering employees Health Savings Accounts and incentivizing prevention. The missing element in the equation is transparent pricing for these cash-paying patients, but that information is hard to come by.

Opponents call government requiring price disclosure a mandate.  The Goldwater Institute’s Byron Schlomach disagrees and testified in support of the bill saying in part, “the current system is not anything like a real market for the vast majority of patients and providers. Name another market where the government or some private company pays the bill for you.  If car repair were nearly all paid by government or insurance, I would insist that there be a price posting law for those who didn’t have a third party payer, partly because the only way a third party payer system exists in the first place is because government effectively created it.”

Opponents also say they already provide such information to patients.  If so, why the vehement opposition?  The number of lobbyists opposing the measure tells the real story.  18-2.  Eighteen lobbyists representing mostly insurers, hospitals and health plans signed in opposing the bill and nearly killed it in the Senate where, after passing the Senate Health Committee, opponents descended upon Senate leadership personally and the bill nearly didn’t come to the floor.  Obviously there is something more at stake.

That something is competitive pricing and where more competition will lead…to a competitive free market health care system where less government & 3rd party monies control the pricing game.

Obamacare is now estimated to cost DOUBLE what was first projected over the next decade.  $1.76 Trillion dollars.  That’s a lot of money that will flow from government to insurers and health plans.  With that much at stake, converting to a competitive free market will not come easy.   Are elected officials up for the fight?  Or maybe the question should be, “are Republicans willing to fight?”

Forbes contributor Avik Roy’s  article, “Why do hospitals charge $4,423 for $250 CT scans? Blame Arizona Republicans” refers to SB 1384 in his piece.

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