Universal healthcare is the bold solution we need (Ray Siegfried)

Formerly a senior VP at Christiana Healthcare, the writer is now a professor at Arcadia’s School of Global business. He is also running as a Democrat for the 7th District seat in the DE House of Representatives.

A recent News Journal (USA Today) editorial argued that the healthcare system would work better with “transparent medical costs,” which would lead to healthcare costs being lowered by competition. Similar ideas are being floated by the president, by HHS Secretary Alex Azare, and by lawmakers in Colorado, etc.

Realistically, however, “medical services are not subject to a free market economy.” Americans insured under Medicare and Medicaid won’t benefit from price transparency at all, as public insurers establish their own prices. Americans with private healthcare insurance may be helped, but “let’s not overstate the issue.”

If you were ever taken to the ER, there probably wasn’t much of a chance to haggle about prices. And even in a non-emergency situation, e.g., an elective hip replacement, “it can be very difficult to navigate the market” – what hospital offers the best prices, is it an in-network hospital under your plan, does your doctor practice there, etc. – “and make smart financial decisions.” So people buy healthcare insurance and let their insurance company do the negotiating for them. But this is far from a panacea, because insurance companies are hard to deal with too.

Instead of falling for the policies suggested by politicians “who want to apply the same economics used at your local car dealership to your local hospitals,” we need to seriously consider “building a system that serves all of our needs, provides high-quality care at affordable costs, and doesn’t let people slip through the cracks or go bankrupt because of a medical emergency or illness.”

Why universal healthcare? America is “the only country in the industrialized world that doesn’t have it,” and things don’t have to be that way. “I believe that we can and must do better, and I’m backing that claim up by running for state representative.” With healthcare costs continuing to rise, “the moment requires bolder action than price transparency.”

Based on reports from elsewhere, states already struggling to cover their healthcare costs have learned that they couldn’t afford to offer universal healthcare coverage. No reasons why a different conclusion should apply in Delaware are provided, so the recommendation lacks credibility.
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