Shopping for healthcare coverage should be as simple as shopping for anything else, but under today’s healthcare system, it is anything but. Healthcare delivery has been presented to the public as a very complex issue, but it’s only complicated because we have gotten away from the fundamentals, specifically the doctor-patient relationship.
Most debate and news coverage about healthcare today is focused on healthcare coverage for all, with the assumption that providing more health insurance to more people is the way to fix the problems in our healthcare system. This is wrong.
The real problem is that large health networks and the payers who do business with them are forming a sort of monopoly, where choice for consumers is gradually narrowing. Consumers use the healthcare services they can, because they have essentially been told they can “take it or leave it.”
With the loss of choice will come a deterioration of the high quality of care that would be assured by open competition. Patients today have fewer options when it comes to selecting a provider, and providers are bound by policies written by administrators when it comes to deciding courses of treatment for patients.
Further government intervention is not helping the problem — in fact, it’s making it worse. We should be striving for a better system.
The system should begin with medical records that are under the patient’s control, and should offer consumers the same range of choices that they have when they shop for other goods and services.
In a free-market system, the prices of goods and services are determined by supply and demand, and are free from intervention by a government, a price-setting monopoly or other authority. In a heavily regulated market, a government or other body intervenes in supply and demand with various means like tariffs and other measures that restrict trade.
We always hope that government intervention will lead to better care at a lower price, but unfortunately this is not what we have today. Our healthcare system does not resemble a free market where price equilibrium is found through supply and demand. It is a system that is complicated and compromised by government intervention and powerful entities — providers and payers — who together are beginning to resemble a monopoly.
A free healthcare marketplace begins with the concept of individual liberty and equal access to the highest quality care. The concept can come to fruition with technologies that bring all stakeholders together regardless of physical location or economic status.
Consumers have tremendous power when it comes to buying all other goods and services. But when it comes to selecting their healthcare, they have lost that power. New technologies can help them get it back.
We cannot let politicians and corporations completely control the delivery of healthcare. This is what we’ve been doing, and it’s not working.
We need a free and open healthcare market, one enabled by new technologies that can bring patients and providers together without restrictions. Free and open competition has led to better cars, better food, better houses and a better way of life.
It’s time that individual choice and free competition led to better healthcare.
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