Here’s a health care solution. Not the only solution but one – one that works toward more of a market-driven system that would drive down health care costs.
National Public Radio last week reported on a New Hampshire company called Vitals that runs a service called SmartShopper. Vitals partners with insurance companies and employers to provide a call center where their insured can shop around their area for tests and medical procedures to find the best prices.
People can go where they want for their health care, but Vitals pays them if they do choose the low-cost provider. The company pays “rewards” of from $25 to $500, depending on the service. Insurance companies and employers can afford these incentives because the price of medical services can vary widely.
This is smart business. And would make for good health care policy for a country that can’t figure out how to reform its health care system when the successful business model is right before its eyes. The problem with America’s health care system is it has short-circuited the usual business-consumer relationship.
“Vitals” gets health care consumers to shop around for best prices. It in fact creates a consumer where there previously wasn’t one, because normally we don’t approach health care services like a consumer, like we do for other goods and services we purchase. In our insurance system, we don’t usually shop around. We don’t even pay attention to prices. That’s the insurance company’s problem.