John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, as an alternative healthcare reform plan proposes eight commonsense reforms. They include equalizing the tax benefit of employer-based health insurance with individual health insurance, making it easier to secure high-deductible health insurance policies, transparency in healthcare pricing, and reform to Medicare among others.
I endorse each and every one of his proposals. However, I don’t think they’ll be enough. Healthcare reform is a case in which we really need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need insurance reform, tempering of demand, and an increase in the supply of healthcare, all at the same time.
To Mr. Mackey’s proposals I’d add reforms to medical education (not only of physicians but of nurses, PA’s, and other personnel), changes in the pharmaceutical testing and approval processes, a ban on the advertising of prescription medications to consumers, and reforms making it easier to open new hospitals and clinics and encouraging competition among them.
It’s a lot to do all at once but when you’ve neglected something for as long as we have whether it’s a house or a healthcare system you’re going to need to do a lot of repair.
Me, I’d just like to know what a procedure should cost.
I have paid $900 for a sonogram (for a possible abdominal aneurysm, negative) and about $300 for a sonogram (possible kidney anomalies, negative).
Because I have Nail-Patella Syndrome, and there was a trace of blood in my urine, my GP suggested a cytoscopy. I live across the Mississippi from Natchez, and we don’t have a resident urologist. I was referred to a specialist in Baton Rouge, and wound up paying $900 plus for the procedure when the lab bills came in. Nice building, nice office. Virginia Postrel would have liked the style.
Yeah, that’s the transparency reform that Mackey talks about. It’s ridiculously hard to do comparison shopping—deliberately so, I think.
Cost of living from region to region will certainly be a major factor.
Beyond that, does one like “style” or will utilitarian do?
I had a femoral-inguinal hernia that required an operation involving mesh. There are two hospitals in Natchez. One offered a discount to $9000 and one offered a discount to $4000 for OUTPATIENT surgery. I was in at 6:30 where I wasted a lot of damn time until 1:00, and out by 5.
Judging by what we’ve seen on airfares I’d put my money on “low cost.” Assuming consumers can get that data and assuming there’s some reward for finding the best deal. If someone else is paying I’ll fly first class.
In the instances of my sonograms, the two experiences were the same. Decent, clean facilities, both with some eye to comfort, and equally good, sweet technicians (I presume, here).
Why not just get rid of prescriptions? Many countries, like Brazil, sell most drugs (not narcotics) without prescription. In the USSA, I have to go to a doctor to get a prescription for a 3-pill course of the anti-helminth Mebendazole, pay an exorbitant price, and give up my personal privacy to get the pills.
In Brazil, I walk into a pharmacy, pay $3 and walk out with 3 pills. Mebendazole is not killing Brazilians!
And if we have to see the heavy hand of gummint in our health care, why not just ask our gummint to prohibit all price discrimination, so that all healthcare providers would sell all services to all comers at the same price, just as Walmart or even the USPS do?