President Obama wants unelected bureaucrats to control health care costs, and indeed, envisions using that goal as an excuse for constructing a bureaucratic state.
But why not try capitalism first? The SF Chronicle has an interesting story about a couple of on-line start ups that help compare the prices hospitals charge for their services. From the story:
Surgery to remove your appendix in one California hospital could cost $180,000. Have the operation at a different facility in the same state and the bill might be as little as $1,500. That kind of disparity, typical across the country, combined with escalating medical spending and the increasing amount of data available online, has prompted several startups to get into the business of helping companies and their employees save health care dollars.
Great idea for a business. But why not really unleash the power of competition to reduce costs? Let’s dump the Obamacare approach of forcing broad free, across the board coverage, which will raise the price of insurance companies and eventually lead to centralized invidious rationing.
Instead, if we had high deductibles, tax credits for maintaining health savings accounts, and required coverage only for medical treatments and screening, with limited or no coverage for non therapeutic services, competitive forces would be unleashed, pushing hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, drug companies, etc. to reduce prices.
Cost isn’t everything, of course, particularly in medicine. But it isn’t chopped liver, either. Knowing that patients are individually impacted by the price of treatments, and that other providers are competing for the business, would create a downward pressure on the cost of health care overall. That would sure beat the Independent Payment Advisory Board authoritarianism!