Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How much is that doggie in the window?

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President Obama’s health care reform agenda is back on the front pages of the news this week. The President used his weekly radio address last Saturday to call on Democrat and Republican leaders to use good faith to find reforms that work for American families and small businesses.

One of the ideas suggested is to grant the federal health and human services secretary new authority to review and block premium increases by private insurers by creating a new Health Insurance Rate Authority made up of health industry experts.

What happened to the good old days when market forces of competition and consumerism were used to control prices?

This blogster has said more than once that the health care reform ideas of unsuccessful Presidential candidate John McCain were better solutions for competition and consumerism. The problem was that John McCain couldn’t articulate his ideas in a convincing manner and those who were fat and happy with the status quo weren’t interested; like those who already had great health care benefits provided by their employers.

What are needed in true health care reform are changes that allow the powerful economic forces of health care provider competition and patient consumerism to thrive. Creating a new layer of government bureaucracy to control prices doesn’t do that in my opinion.

Last week my wife went to a new medical doctor and, at the end of her visit, wanted to pay the bill. We have a high deductible health insurance plan where we pay the first $4,000 per year before the insurance pays any of her medical costs. The medical receptionist was unable to tell my wife the cost of her visit until the insurance company was billed.

That just doesn’t seem right to me. We wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes and take them home without paying for them first and knowing the cost as we walked out the store. It should be the same for health care.

Let’s restore health care provider competition and patient consumerism. We should be able to get an answer about how much a trip to the doctor costs just like the little boy who wants a dog and asks “how much is that doggie in the window?”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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