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Now It Can Be Told: Health Reform Won’t Lower Costs

John on April 12, 2010 at 7:36 am

Apparently Time magazine was so hesitant on publishing this they dated it next Monday the 19th:

American consumerism is a force to be reckoned with. Turn a few hundred million of the world’s most sophisticated shoppers loose on an industry, and watch companies scramble after their business. In realms from washing machines to stock trades, quality goes up and price comes down as companies look for an edge over the next guy to win customer dollars.

Not in health care. Congress has overhauled the industry, but the revolution has largely been about increasing access to health care, not simplifying it. We are left with the same opaque system of perverse incentives–paying providers for more tests and procedures, not necessarily effective ones. And we lack even the most basic element of the free market: price information. I recently went to a doctor and asked how much my office visit and X-ray would cost. Staffers told me that they didn’t know and, since I have insurance, I shouldn’t care.

I should care, though. In fact, I do. There are many reasons health care costs are spiraling out of control, but the simplest one to understand is this: nobody knows what anything costs. Providers get paid through a tangle of insurance-company agreements and billing schedules that change from patient to patient. No wonder a hospital can sneak a $100 box of Kleenex onto your bill and the price of an MRI can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. If you don’t know what something costs, you can’t know if it costs too much.

Add that to this piece from the NY Times about the inevitability of (nay, the need for!) government rationing of care and a whole new picture of the new law emerges. Fortunately, our masters in the MSM made sure to cast aspersions on all of these same ideas until after the bill was passed.

Rationing? That’s nuts!

Reform won’t stop the price from climbing? Of course it will!

But now that the bill is law, the truth can be told.

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Category: Health & Education |

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