Saturday, March 13, 2010

A cheap fix for Healthcare

What is the fastest way to drive down prices and force businesses to compete for your business with great customer service? Increase competition! How can we increase competition in healthcare? Increase the number of doctors!

I propose that we take a very, very small percentage of the stimulus money that has not yet been spent and provide full scholarships to every qualified person who wants to become a healthcare provider (RN, doctor, dentist, etc.) These students must still pass all of the requirements necessary to be properly licensed and maintain their licenses in their respective specialties, except that there will be no restrictions on their number. There should be some minimum years of service required in order to not have to pay back their scholarships, but there should be no other restrictions in becoming a healthcare provider. Imagine what will happen to the cost of an office visit if there are three times as many doctors competing for you! Imagine what will happen to customer service! There is no law (at least there shouldn't be) that says doctors have to be rich.

Once we increase the numbers of healthcare providers and get routine care prices down to a "real world" level, we should reduce or eliminate healthcare insurance for routine outpatient care. Think of your car. You carry insurance to protect against catastrophe, but you pay for all routine maintenance out of your pocket. You also shop around for the best service for the best price before you take your car in to be worked on. Health insurance should be the same way. I also think that health insurance should be more like dental insurance. You buy your insurance based on a reimbursement schedule. If your dental policy says it will pay "up to $500 for a crown", you are going to shop around until you can find a dentist who will do a crown for $500 or less (remember, we now have lots of dentists competing for your business.)

Some would say that automobile mechanics require just as much expertise as many medical specialties (and some would say that statement is crazy.) However, my point is that the barriers to entry into the mechanic field are much less than to the medical field. That is the ONLY reason that car repair is cheaper than body repair; there is more competition!

Of course, in order to really, really lower prices, all "ambulance chasers" should be required to pay all court and attorney fees when they lose a suit, and suit awards should be limited to actual damages. If the healthcare provider needs to be further punished, revoke his or her license, don't pad the pockets of the lawyers.


  1. This is completely against your previous post. You don't want the government being involved in stuff, then don't let them get involved. Sure, it would increase the number of doctors temporarily, but when you ended the program, no one else would want to be a doctor for several years because the market would be flooded and you wouldn't have as much earning potential for the 8 years they have to spend in school/residency. You were right the first time: No government involvement in any way.

  2. I agree that I do not want government in anything. However, if we are going to spend the money anyway, and if "fixing" healthcare is an important issue, then I think this is the way to do it. I also think that as we shrink government and get it out of our business, education will also become more competitive. If educators able to go to 4, 6, 8, and more years of school and survive on their educator's salaries, why can't doctors? We must change the paradigm that doctors must be wealthy. They must make a living. We do not have to force a false "shortage" in order to keep the price healthcare beyond everyone's reach. Believe me, it will always be cheaper to allow and encourage competition than it will be to regulate anything!