WASHINGTON — President Bush argued Thursday that the United States needs a health care system in which patients pay more directly for their care, because that will turn them into comparison shoppers whose interest in a good deal will drive costs down.
Bush said the current system, in which employers and insurance companies are the most involved in paying health care bills, makes individuals less engaged in the cost of the procedures they get.
“When somebody else pays the bills, rarely do you ask price or ask the cost of something,” the president said during a panel discussion on his health care initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services. “The problem with that is that there’s no kind of market force, there’s no consumer advocacy for reasonable price when somebody else pays the bills. One of the reasons why we’re having inflation in health care is because there is no sense of market.”
Let us look at this critically.
Republi elephant dung.
When the doctor sends someone to a specialist, how often do real people shop around?
If one trusts one’s doctor, one goes to the specialist one’s doctor recommends. Period.
When the doctor gives someone a prescription for a lab test, whether it is something relatively inexpensive, such as a CBC or something expensive, such as an MRI, how likely is one to say, “Gee, Doc, is this the best deal? Can I get it more cheaply somewhere else?” Nooooo, indebtedness breath.
One goes where one is sent.
Also to the point, how often are there competing prices? In my part of the world, we have a choice between Labcorp and, er, Labcorp. (Now, this is not a criticism of Labcorp. They’ve always treated me well and haven’t screwed up any results.)
And even more also to the point, the most expensive treatments and tests take place when someone is in the hospital. In the hospital, there is no choice. Period. Ever.
Try it. Get sick. Get admitted. Wait until the attending physician orders tests. Then ask for competitive bids.
Remember what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “The rich are different from you and me.”
Mr. Bush is a child of privilege. He perhaps could, while on his sick bed, negotiate with the hospital for an RFQ on the tests that have to be done within the next two hours to save his life.
But the rest of us could not.
He has no idea what real life is like for most of us.
This proposal does not contemplate the well-being of the citizenry of the United States of America.
But I got a dollar to a doughnut that, if it is enacted, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.
After all, that is his track record, is it not?