If competition actually drives the cost of health care up rather than down, what would bring lower costs?
What provisions in a “health reform act” would actually drop costs in health care? Let’s leave aside for the moment all the myriad other arguments – some might be seen as too much government intrusion, some would destroy the health plan industry, some would be cripplingly difficult for providers, and so on – and just focus on cost. Given the real structure of health care markets in the United States at this moment, what could be written into federal law and regulation that would actually reduce cost?me of these changes are massive, some would be invisible to those outside the industry, but all could be legislated or regulated, and all would “bend the curve” toward lower costs. Choose any you like, though some are “and” choices, others are “or” choices:
- Single payer: Eliminates insurance company overhead, increases medical loss ratio (the percentage of dollars put in returned as medical resources) to perhaps 95%, and gives the government (probably some rate-setting commission) the power to dictate prices and availability, like Medicare on steroids.
- “Robust” public option: All providers must take its payments as full payment, rates tied to Medicare rates (perhaps plus a percentage), Medicare rates decided by an independent rate-setting commission.
- Limiting medical loss ratios: Many European countries dictate that health plans must return 85% or 90% or 92.5% of the premium paid in as medical services paid out. U.S. health plans, in contrast, compete on (and brag to Wall Street analysts about) how low their medical loss ratio is. Some are as low as 60%.