Why should the exact same treatment for pneumonia cost $5,000 in one building and $124,000 in another? Or the exact same infusion drug for a chronically ill patient that requires them every six weeks cost $14,000 per shot in one setting, but $28,000 down the street? Why should patients have to pay so much more, simply based on where they park their cars? The answer is simple: they shouldn’t.
When it comes to the rising cost of medical care, Dr. Linda Girgis is quick to identify one of the most problematic symptoms: Patients who keep their mouths shut.
“We think every American should understand that a decent price for a shoulder MRI is $500 versus $4,000,” Kempton said. Volume discounts obstruct and distort the free market and the understanding of the true cost of care, he said. “It should be the same cash price to any willing buyer. Price is not a product; care is.” Kempton told of how a durable medical equipment supplier quoted a $4,195 discounted price on a $6,900 oxygen concentrator, but quickly matched a $2,995 price that Kempton found in a Google search.
Healthcare does not need to be difficult. It is actually rather simple; the problem resides in that far too many individuals have accepted false premises. We do not need fancy, overly elaborate systems for healthcare. In fact, per the featured article, only one thing really needs to be done well. Focus needs to be on what the healthcare CUSTOMER wants. That's it. And I would wager that, among some other things, customers desire SIMPLICITY in regards to healthcare procurement and payment. Drilling down even more, shouldn't healthcare be like ANY OTHER market, bearing actual, comprehensible prices?
As consumers get savvier about shopping for health care, some are finding a curious trend: More hospitals, imaging centers, outpatient surgery centers and pharmacy chains will give them deep discounts if they pay cash instead of using insurance. When Nancy Surdoval, a retired lawyer, needed a knee X-ray last year, Boulder Community Hospital in Colorado said it would cost her $600, out of pocket, using her high-deductible insurance, or just $70 if she paid cash upfront. When she needed an MRI to investigate further, she was offered a similar choice—she could pay $1,100, out of pocket, using her insurance, or $600 if she self-paid in cash. Rather than feel good about the savings, Ms. Surdoval got angry at her carrier, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “I’m paying $530 a month in premiums and I get charged more than someone who just walks in off the street?” says Ms. Surdoval, who divides her time between Boulder and Tucson. “I thought insurance companies negotiated good deals for us. Now things are totally upside down.”