Sen. Sherrod Brown’s recent comments on his “fix” for unexpected medical bills struck me as an example of solving a problem of high cost and low delivery efficiency with what actually caused that exact problem [“Stopping surprise hospital bills,” column published Feb. 22].
Since Obamacare forced layers of new government controls, reporting and compliance under the promise of reduced health insurance costs for all families, lower use of emergency rooms, better access to doctors, including keeping yours and your health insurance, the very predictable results has been the opposite. Affordable Care Act Exchange premiums in 2016 average a 25 percent increase and one-third of U.S. counties now have only one insurer.
Yet, Brown tells the sad tale of out-of-network expense. His fix is not more competition and market reforms to create efficiencies and drive costs down, but requiring medical providers to report costs for each and every procedure and vendor used or referred to get “informed consent.”
Does your family doctor have details of all costs for services they do not directly provide? Rather than focusing on patient care, doctors will be forced take on a new cost accounting role. Is it any wonder that private practices, like small banks, are an increasingly rare breed as regulations and their increasing costs force out all but the largest?
Loss of efficiency is an expense, which means companies shift the costs elsewhere — to consumers. Regulations had the same impact on banking. Regulations to “save U.S. consumers” was hailed as a way to avoid Too Big To Fail and finance market titans from scamming the country. What we received instead is the loss of one-third of the nation’s lending institutions (almost all community banks), and expansion of the behemoths.
My doctor recently sold to OhioHealth. His story is of the inevitable loss of the entrepreneurial heart of America to the juggernaut of regulation. The consumer is not the overall beneficiary.