One of the great things about a capitalistic economy is that competition causes prices for products to drop. In the American healthcare system, capitalism isn’t allowed to perform its magic. Why? Because there is often little or no access to information.
Several years ago my wife and I learned this firsthand. We were preparing to bring our second child into the world. We owned a business, which meant that we didn’t have a Cadillac insurance plan that motivates most people to ignore the actual, real prices being charged for medical products and services. For those who have corporate insurance plans, it takes some digging to come close to finding out what the cost is for spending the night in the labor room, for having your baby get the valuable treatment received in the nursery. In fact, unless you ask (which my wife has learned to do), if you only deal with insurance, you don’t even know how much you’re being charged for lotions or pain killers (Motrin, etc.). For those who pay with cash, you find yourself wondering after incurring the costs, “Why didn’t I just bring my own Motrin?” or “We’ve got several bottles of lotion in our bathroom at home. Why did we need to pay $50 for a bottle of lotion provided by the hospital nurses?”
I came across a resource recently that is uncovering the mystery related to healthcare pricing. It’s called PricingHealthcare.com. The video below describes some things about their mission, which is to inform those who are shopping for healthcare services about pricing options.
Why is this so revolutionary? Because the tendency of any competitive market (wherein people are allowed to make educated decisions between different alternatives) is for the prices to go down, thus becoming affordable for the entire population. In our current healthcare system, information about pricing is hidden from consumers. Stay tuned to see whether these guys can break through the barrier and provide to the public enough information about the costs of healthcare to allow us to make choices that will ultimately correct the out of control healthcare market.