March 19, 2012

Consumers Can Reduce The Cost Of Health Care

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

The private sector is working to change the way we can shop for quality health care services.  Many insurance companies are working with providers to offer programs that show consumers the cost and value of procedures in their community.  Unfortunately, provisions in Obamacare are undermining these developments.  At a time when Americans are experiencing the financial burden of medical care, consumers should have more control over their money, and the federal government should not hinder the private sector innovations, which bring down health care costs for American families.      

We should have the ability to shop around for quality health services.  Under the current ambiguous health care structure, consumers may be charged different prices for the same procedures at the same health care provider depending on their health insurance (or lack of health insurance).  Shedding some light on the value of health care services will help individuals and small businesses navigate through the health care maze and decrease costs.  As in other marketplaces where consumers price-compare during shopping, insurers are beginning to provide innovative tools to allow the health care consumer to do the same.  For example, insurers have developed lists of price ranges for specific procedures and services and the doctors, clinics and hospitals providing those services.  These lists enable people to compare cost and quality for services in their local area and make more informed health care decisions.  These innovations are a step in the right direction.

The bureaucracy of Obamacare is threatening the availability of these useful tools by reducing companies' ability and incentives to provide these transparencies.  As the law expands government intervention in the health care marketplace, it hinders the patient's ability to make informed cost decisions.  Patients, their families and doctors should be making these final health care decisions without the intrusion of the federal government. 

These are among the many reasons I voted against Obamacare and voted to repeal this law that continues to fail to control health care costs and fails to improve access to quality care.  This month, as the two-year anniversary of Obamacare approaches, and the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments against the health care mandate, the need to enact real health care reforms remains.  Americans deserve true health care reform that controls health care costs and does not impede patient-friendly innovations.

It is not too late to make progress and improve health care availability and cost.  We need to stop the implementation of Obamacare, which will result in higher costs for consumers.  First, the federal government needs to get out of the way of progress and helpful, private sector innovations.  We, as consumers, have the right to know what we get for our money.  We have the power to make financial decisions and bend the health care cost curve. 

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