Thursday, May 24, 2007

Who Would Object to Affordable Health Care?

From Gallup: "Healthcare costs are among the top financial problems facing American families, and healthcare is listed as one of the top economic problems for the country. Healthcare costs are volunteered as the top specific health problem facing the country, above and beyond diseases such as cancer."

And what is the proftit-seeking private sector doing about healthcare reform and healthcare costs?

From the Financial Times: Walk-in clinics represent one of the most advanced and aggressive attempts by US business and entrepreneurs to drive reform of the healthcare system.

This year hundreds will be opened in some of the US’s largest drugstore and retail groups, and thousands of clinics could be running in the next decade. In May, Walgreens bought Take Care, following CVS’s MinuteClinic acquisition last year. Both Wal-Mart and Target, the leading discounters, are opening walk-in clinics.

Advocates say the clinics will improve access to healthcare and reduce costs; that they will reduce more expensive visits to hospital emergency rooms; and that they will catch some illnesses before they become serious and costly. As a result, physicians will have more time for complex cases.

Sounds good, right? As important as healthcare and healthcare costs are to Americans, and as much as we hear about the need for reform, who would possibly object to greater accessibility to low-cost basic health care at a Target, Walgreens or Wal-Mart?

You can probably guess, but
find out here.

6 Comments:

At 5/24/2007 8:48 AM, Anonymous Walt G. said...

"First, despite US business’s push to inject and increase consumer principles into healthcare, it is still unproven whether people understand how to shop for medical care like other products, or even whether they want to do so."

How can consumers shop for health care when the health-care industry hides the cost of the product? If you want to see a surprised doctor, ask her how much her surgery is going to cost and then tell her you will get back with her after you've done some comparison shopping. I did this and saved my insurance company a lot of money; I went to a higher rated hospital, too. I was willing to drive 40 miles for the savings.

Possibly some people do not care what medical care costs if they have insurance; however, I think people are much more aware of the problem nowadays and are willing to help if given the chance. It is an unwarranted assumption that people don’t care about health-care costs just because they have insurance.

If we can have a law for a written estimate for a $100 car repair, why can't we find out that a triple-bypass heart surgery will cost $50,000 at one hospital and $40,000 at a comparable hospital a few miles away? I realize the human body is complex; after all, we are not cars, but that’s why it’s called an “estimate.” I don't usually believe more laws are the answer to society's ills; however, this problem must be addressed and the health care industry seems unwilling to find a solution and the consumers are unable. Let price transparency be a part of the solution to a complicated problem. Wal-Mart seems to be part of the solution.

 
At 5/24/2007 9:45 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Walt g, where is this the case? "can have a law for a written estimate for a $100 car repair"

Your comment: "It is an unwarranted assumption that people don’t care about health-care costs just because they have insurance" sadly is incorrect Today but thankfully it is changing...

Price transparency will only come about if shoppers educate themselves...

Its really not the government's job to protect people from their own actions...

 
At 5/24/2007 12:28 PM, Anonymous Walt G. said...

Juandos,

I don't have the exact Michigan car repair estimate law here, but here's the gist of it copied from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Website. "The written estimate must contain detailed costs for parts and labor for the repairs to be performed, but the customer’s signature is not a requirement of the Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act."

You should not underestimate people's abilities. Given the chance, they will educate themselves.

We have a law for item pricing in Michigan. Don't you think it's strange that you are, by law, allowed to know the price of a pack of gum before you buy it, but not the price of a surgery?

How is my surgeon’s actions ‘my own actions” unless I am operating on myself? Now, that's a scary thought.

 
At 5/24/2007 1:00 PM, Anonymous Walt G. said...

Here's a snippet of the relevant part of the car repair estimate law in Michigan. Is it really that far of a stretch to expect the same protection from the medical field. If so: Why? Isn't your body more important to you than you car?

4-3.1 Requirement. A repair facility is required to provide a written estimate in each
instance when the price of the diagnosis, service or repair of a motor vehicle will be $20 or more (MCL 257.1332). The price of the estimate must reflect as closely as possible the actual cost of the repair (see Waivers, Section 3-4, for possible exceptions).
4-3.2 Components. A written estimate must contain the following information:
(a) A list of all parts necessary for a specific job, including the price of the parts. If
any of the parts is “used, rebuilt or reconditioned,” those parts must be identified as such on the estimate;
(b) Labor costs, showing both the hourly price of labor, and the estimated number
of hours required to perform the work;
(c) Any charge made in connection with the return of replaced parts; charges for
shop supplies, such as rags, cleaning fluids, any lubricants; and charges for the
disposal of hazardous waste materials. The price quoted on the written estimate
must include the actual dollar amount which will be charged for shop supplies
(may not be a percentage);
(d) The cost of disassembly, inspection and diagnosis of any portion of a vehicle,
such as a transmission, to determine the extent of repairs needed, if any, and the
cost for reassembling the portion of the vehicle in the event the customer in the
chooses not to authorize any repairs.

 
At 5/24/2007 9:17 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hello walt g....

Interesesting little correlation there between surgery and auto repair and not a bad way to explain it...

Here in Missouri we've gotten some pretty decent consumer protection laws on the books over the period of the last two decades...

I've got to look if getting an auto repair estimate is actually law or something in this case at least better than law, the demands of the insurance companies...

The funny thing is that I always had the impression (which quickly faded after I became a shop steward) that people would comparison shopped for 'everything!

Thanks for the info on the, "repair estimate law in Michigan"...

 
At 5/27/2007 2:26 AM, Blogger Brian said...

These doctors are just trying to protect their regulatory state enforced monopoly on health care. The shortage of health care providers is entirely artificial and propagated by the lobbying action of the AMA. It's frustrating, really.

 

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