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What is the number one complaint amongst conservatives regarding healthcare? That it is completely void of the free market. Whether it is ObamaCare, or what we currently know of RyanCare, for all intents and purposes, the free market simply doesn’t exist.
We on the right understand that free market forces like competition and innovation are the keystones to any successful industry – any mutually beneficial transaction. Insurance is no different.
Health Insurance, which, to reiterate for the thousandth time, is not healthcare, anymore than auto insurance equals car repair, etc. We would never think of attempting to use our auto insurance for a tire change or a new muffler. Yet we don’t think twice about using our health insurance when we see a doctor for the common cold.
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And why? Simple, as we know. It’s called third party payer, or worse, single payer. As long as we perceive that someone, the insurance company, will pay for the visit, we don’t ask what the charges are before service is rendered. We don’t ask after the services are rendered, nor do most even care. It’s the antithesis of the free market.
When you seek to purchase new tires, you first shop around for the best deal. When you decide on where to bring your vehicle, you get a firm price for the tires, the mounting, balance, etc. For the most part, you know exactly what your outlay will be. This is the free market.
And this is what the traditional medical complex is lacking, either by force or by choice. Yet there is a segment of medicine which demonstrates the success of free market healthcare. These are elective procedures.
An elective medical procedure is something for which a person wants but doesn’t necessarily require. Things like Botox injections, laser eye surgery, tummy-tucks and a seemingly endless list of other “cosmetic” procedures. Most are performed by highly trained physicians/surgeons, and all are paid for by the customer. There is no single payer government bureaucrat involved, no insurance companies, nor miles of needless paperwork. Elective medicine is healthcare at its free-market finest.
Some would say, “Sure, but that stuff is only for the rich and famous. I could never afford to pay for frivolous things like that out of pocket.” Maybe for some procedures, but for others, you’d be wrong Daniel-son.
As the cost of traditional medical treatment has skyrocketed, elective procedures have risen at a fraction of the pace, and in a growing number of procedures, pricing has drastically decreased. And at the same time prices are lowering, innovation is flourishing.
Elective medicine is a very competitive industry. There’s that word – competition. Elective medical practices must actually compete for customers. They are not just handed them by the government. Practitioners are always searching for ways to innovate and draw in new clientele. There’s that other word – innovation.
In 2015, Johns Hopkins did a study of the cost of primary care physicians. They found that the cost of a single doctor visit, without insurance, could range from $160 to over $200.
Yet another study conducted by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) found that laser eye surgery can cost as little as $150 to $300. For about the cost of a lousy visit to the doctor, you can have your vision permanently corrected. IBD added that the same procedure cost well over $2000 in 1998. Who’d a thunk it – a complex and highly innovative medical procedure reduced in price by a factor of 10. And that’s just one example. This is not supposed to happen.
But it could happen. However it won’t, as long as we continue down the path we’re on.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.