President Trump wants you to see upfront prices for health care. That’s why a few months ago, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published a request for comments about whether and how to end secret prices in health care. The deadline for comments was last week, and the submissions from the industries most threatened by consumers knowing and comparing prices — hospitals and insurance companies — are an exercise in Swamp-o-nomics.
John Desser, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at eHealth Inc. and former HHS official, said, “Any effort to bring more visibility and data to the consumer on health care costs is a step in the right direction. Health care is just far too opaque, and so anything we can do to address that is a step in the right direction — but there will be some controversy. There will be entrenched interests that will try to oppose it.”
“Specifically, we are concerned about proposals for open-ended arbitration, which have been floated as a solution to the problem. If arbitration appears innocuous, it is to a large extent because it is not transparent. Experience suggests that arbitration would be cumbersome to deploy, and highly favorable to those health care providers who charge high prices today. If Congress were to endorse arbitration, it could potentially open the door to a system quite unintended – establishing an inflationary dynamic that accommodates and encourages the rapid growth of costs.”
Total health expenditures under a Medicare for All plan that provides comprehensive coverage and long-term care benefits would be $3.89 trillion in 2019 (assuming such a plan was in place for all of the year), or a 1.8 percent increase relative to expenditures under current law. This estimate accounts for a variety of factors including increased demand for health services, changes in payment and prices, and lower administrative costs. We also include a supply constraint that results in unmet demand equal to 50 percent of the new demand. If there were no supply constraint, we estimate that total health expenditures would increase by 9.8 percent to $4.20 trillion.
AEI economist Benedic N. Ippolito testified before the Senate HELP Committee on the Lower Health Care Costs Act. Ippolito applauded the bipartisan effort to “meaningfully increase competition and transparency in health care markets…lowering costs would also improve access to health care.”
Senate HELP Committee leaders Wednesday unveiled their wide-ranging bill to address health care costs including “surprise” medical bills. [While surprise medical bills are a serious problem and the goal is laudable, Congress has tried in the past to address this issue, leading to unintended and expensive consequences. All of the proposals before the HELP committee are controversial, and Congress must proceed carefully to avoid exacerbating the problem.]
While Washington debates whether the “rebate rule” proposed by the Trump administration would cause federal spending to rise, too many are forgetting the people it would help. The rebate rule would convert rebates on brand-name prescription drugs—paid by pharmaceutical companies to health insurance plans—into upfront discounts—shared directly with patients at the pharmacy. The rule affects seniors and low-income Americans in privately run Medicare and Medicaid plans, but the administration wants Congress to extend the same protection to all Americans with private insurance. This is the quickest way to lower consumers’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines—by billions each year. It’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset our system to work better, for all patients.
Single-payer health care is a dividing line in the race, separating Democrats who want to replace the private insurance system from those who favor improving it. Some candidates — like Bernie Sanders and Michael Bennet — picked a clear side. Others, like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, took a middle path.
Despite all the hoopla about Obamacare and its individual plans, most working-age Americans still get their health insurance through their employers. And as countless health wonks have noted, there are lots of problems with that. Employer offerings are limited and are not portable when people switch jobs. And the tax advantages that perpetuate this situation distort the economy: They encourage companies to offer more and more compensation in the form of health benefits, and they are unfair to workers without access to employer plans.
Rising support for socialism in the United States comes at a time when politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., promise a great many “free” services, to be provided or guaranteed by the government.
Supporters often point to nations with large social programs, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Scandinavian states, particularly when it comes to health care.
Never mind that these are not true socialist countries, but highly taxed market economies with large welfare states. That aside, they do offer a government-guaranteed health service that many in America wish to emulate.