I still don’t see enough in the new health care bill to reduce the runaway rise in the cost of health care in the USA. One way to do this could be to go to a single payer system, i.e. the government is the only payer of health care services. However, this is no guarantee since the government has a history of paying more than necessary, remember the famous $4000 toilet seat for the US military.

There is a strategy in the new health care bill that could be expanded to put a clamp on costs. The Obama plan seeks to hold down costs by making health insurance companies compete for customers. The idea here is to make the companies less ready to automatically pay whatever the provider demands because they will have to compete for clients. I have stated repeatedly that I prefer putting the screws directly on the suppliers , e.g. a single payer system.

So how to expand the present bill to promote more competition? One bold measure would be to allow medical practioners to advertise their prices for services. If I can get primary care from a Physcian’s Assistant (PA) for a $50 visit, why would I go to a MD who charges $100 or more? If I can get my hip replaced at an outpatient facility for $2000 why would I spend $10,000 at a hospital? More importantly, this will give the insurance companies the information needed to stay competitive.

In the 1970s we lifted restrictions on lawyers to allow them to compete on prices. It worked to get some control on legal fees. Why not do the same for medicine?