Our ailing economy has boosted the number of people who are unemployed, without health insurance or with minimal coverage. The popularity of high deductible health plans is soaring as employers and individuals look for affordable insurance. Twenty-nine percent of bankruptcies are said to be caused by medical bills. Many of us now choose health care services and providers carefully, trying to stay within tight budgets.
The American people, long protected from the price of health care by insurance, are now forced to act as consumers. This situation is a free marketer’s dream. According to this model, we will rationally calculate the price/quality trade-offs of each doctor visit, procedure, test and drug. We will stop overusing services. We will demand better care. And the result will be reduced health care costs for the nation while the quality of care and the health of individuals will remain the same, if not improve.
There’s nothing like a good theory.
But the theory can only be tested if a) It’s easy to find publicly reported, relevant quality information about the services we need, matched with what we would pay out of pocket; and b) We use that information as the basis of our health care decisions. Neither of these conditions can be met today.
A new Cochrane review Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*