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Archive for the ‘Message from the President’ Category

Minnesotans Want Health Care Price Transparency

Sunday, March 10th, 2019


Minnesotans want to know the actual prices of their medical care and what their insurance plan will pay for it whenever feasible. And, patients and their families also want to know who among Minnesota’s practicing physicians and other professionals post their professional fees online and are available and willing to see them.

Absent knowing actual prices and the real-time availability of doctors, how can Minnesota consumers (patients and families) make intelligent choices about doctors, evaluating hospitals, and purchasing medical products (including medications)? Most third party health care insurance (private and public) pays the health care “provider” directly while leaving the consumer (patient and family) out of the money loop — until after the service is provided and the dreaded medical bill arrives.Our state and federal policymakers need to hear from you.

Minnesota politicians say they want price transparency. Contact them and tell them that only with real price transparency can we have a competitive health care marketplace which is shaped by the needs and preferences of individual consumers when selecting our health care services and third party insurance.

To lower costs and increase access to quality health care, we need innovation, marketplace competition, and expanded patient choices

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Successful reforms must ease limitations on both demand and supply, promoting innovations that can alter the nature of health care delivery and lower costs.

The idea is to identify every potential limit on the supply of health care services, and then [if feasible] eliminate it. If the United States doesn’t do this, other countries will, and America will lose its leadership position in medical innovation.
[D]octors came to believe that, for any set of symptoms (and given certain patient data sets), there is only one correct, deterministic treatment pathway. This has stifled the variation that innovation requires.
[H]ealth coverage [has become] not so much insurance as prepaid medical care.

  • Taxes. Federal tax law favors employer-based coverage, which artificially lowers the cost of group insurance and raises the cost of individual plans. This may be the single most anti-competitive factor in the health insurance market, limiting the variety of available health plans. Breaking down these barriers could start with establishing tax parity for health insurance premiums and individual contributions to health savings accounts.

[H]ealth care innovators must be free to supply new goods and services and consumers must be free [and empowered financially] to purchase them.

  • [The FDA] can approve drugs in stages so that patients with serious, time-critical illnesses could gain early access, and benefit from “right to try” legislation that would grant terminally ill patients early access to drugs still in the approval process.
  •  [A]llow nurse practitioners and other professionals to practice independently (as they already do in numerous states) and authorize pharmacists to write certain prescriptions independently of physicians.
  • Reciprocity agreements or interstate licensing compacts could make it easier for doctors to move from state to state [and for their prescriptions to be honored in more localities].
  • [Training in inter-disciplinary treatment concepts and techniques:] Medical schools today remain focused on individual knowledge rather than [teaching and practicing in] the interdisciplinary teams and networks that characterize much of modern medicine. This results in overly specialized medical fields [and de-emphasis on effective collaborative, patient-centered  team work].
    • [Reform] Malpractice law. [Currently] Tort law invites lawsuits and discourages innovation while also raising costs. The vagaries of tort law also discourage the production of vaccines and the development of new drugs and devices. Potential remedies include capping awards for non-economic damages and shortening the statute of limitations on malpractice suits.

[Politically] This decentralized approach would eliminate the need for one [national] grand bargain—or for total control [of health care in] Washington, DC, by one party.

[My additions] and excerpts above on this fine Mercatus article from MPPA Board member Michael Ainslie, MD