Re: ‘Free market doesn’t work in healthcare’

Dear Editor:

Today, when I read the editorial by Bryan Gray (Cyclops) claiming that the free market in medicine cannot work, I thought his comments display a total lack of knowledge that he either chooses to live in, or maybe he is just not very well educated in the strides free market medicine is making in bringing down the costs of medical and surgical care.

Perhaps he has never heard of the phenomenon of outpatient surgery centers that charge much less than hospitals, and offer online transparent cash pricing for patients who are uninsured (many still are either despite or because of Obamacare). Also, in the era of Obamacare, many people have HUGE deductibles. I know that mine is $11,500 annually, and my coverage totally stinks!

However, if needed, I could skip using the insurance and get several surgeries done locally for anywhere from $1,850 to $8,800 or so that would be at least three times that, if not more, in a hospital. I am not using the names of any facilities here because my goal is to make a point, and not advertise. So, my point is that with price transparency for third-party-free surgery, it is clearly a better deal, and most importantly, people have a choice. That is what the free market is all about.

There is also a new primary care phenomenon that continues to grow in popularity called Direct Primary Care, which is third-party-free and is based on the principle of a monthly membership that is very reasonable – in the neighborhood of $50-$75 per person with a membership for a family of four (two parents and two children) being approximately $130 and $10 for each additional child. The monthly memberships pay for a wide range of routine medical care with additional low fees for other procedures as well, and in many of these practices, doctors are able to dispense medications that they buy at a wholesale price. This probably would not succeed for any large corporate-type physician group, The model better fits an independent group practice because it is very personalized.

Gray used an outlandish example of why free market medicine cannot work. Of course, in an emergency situation, people are not going to be able to shop for hospitals and preferred medical or surgical pricing at that time. No one expects that could happen, and most likely whether the person in a health crisis is covered by insurance or not, the hospital will make sure it gets a handsome price for that person’s moments of vulnerability and possibly complete defenselessness. The hospitals have the power to exact their pound of flesh, so to speak, from people in those times the way some stores do in the face of a community emergency. I know that was happening in the area where I lived after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

For anyone who wants to learn more about the regularly corrupt dealings between hospitals and insurance companies, I would refer you to a column by Dave Chase on Forbes, entitled “Have PPO Networks Perpetrated the Greatest Heist in American History?”

I have so much more to say about this, but I have limited space. So, to conclude, there is much room for free market medicine to have the effect of lowered medical and surgical prices while increasing quality. It has been flourishing behind the scenes in the age of Obamacare, but it would be very beneficial for everyone if it could be further unleashed. If you would like to know more about this movement, contact me at my email address:

Cathy Wentz

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