Cut Costs Without Rationing Care by Putting Patient Back in Charge

Investor’s Business Daily
Posted Monday, August 31, 2009

Decades of data confirm a simple truth: If we want to lower health costs, we need to put consumers back in charge.

Many people now feel like second-class citizens when they enter the doctor’s office. That’s because everyone in the office knows that the patient isn’t really the payer — that the patient doesn’t hold the purse strings.

The greater the percentage that patients instead pay directly to their doctor out-of-pocket, the more patients are in charge.

Whether it’s televisions, computers or Lasik eye surgery, when consumers are in charge, prices stay in check. In 1970, consumers paid for 62% of all privately purchased health care out-of-pocket. Today that percentage is just 26%.

Meanwhile, per-patient health costs have nearly quadrupled — even after accounting for inflation.

Consumers are paying less directly to doctors, but they’re paying four times as much overall — to insurers or the IRS.

The editorial continues at Investor’s Business Daily

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