Now that an estimated 6 million + people have signed up for Obamacare, how have we done? Is 6 million enough? Is the mix of young and old the right mix? Did enough previously uninsured people sign up?
Long term success will hinge not on any of the above questions, but on what we do about costs.
I am not talking about the cost of the insurance premium. After all, if you insure something expensive, the insurance policy will be expensive. Rather, I am talking about the costs of the underlying products and services- physicians, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, devices and supplies.
Here are several steps we can take that will decrease the costs of care:
-Allow Medicare to use its purchasing power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies
-Implement tort reform
-Expand the scope of practice of physician extenders
-Open more retail clinics
-Allow, and reimburse more at-home care
-Encourage, and reimburse, more remote home monitoring
-Allow the sale of insurance policies across state lines
-Encourage more price transparency. Increase the publication of prices.
Every one of these suggestions is either not done today or is limited in order to protect the finances of a particular interest group, be it physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurers or attorneys. And in all cases, it is the consumer who suffers, either through lack of access, higher prices or higher taxes.
Don’t misunderstand me- I support Obamacare. I am glad to see it happening. But we need to focus on costs. Aggressively. Now.