(A) The patient knows what needs to be done (rarely the case)
(B) The care is not emergent (i.e., the patient can wait)
(C) The prices as quoted are accurate, complete, and don't change rapidly or dramatically
If any of those isn't true, then "shopping" for medical care is unrealistic and an unreasonable expectation for the vast majority of people to do. And I'm not talking about going to a minute-clinic at the drugstore for someone to confirm that you have the flu and here's a prescription. I'm talking serious medical issues.
My wife is a physician (double board-certified at one point; she knows her medicine). I have a PhD in business with faculty appointments at two different medical centers, so I have a decent understanding of how hospitals work. Between the two of us, we can't "shop" for medical care for the vast majority of our care needs because each instance violates one or more of the conditions listed above.
Oops, our son needs stitches...no time to shop around, he needs care now.
My foot is bothering me, but I don't know what's wrong. There are lots of different approaches I could take to getting it diagnosed and treated. Am I supposed to price out all the different possible care scenarios, factoring in all the "what if" situations that could occur?
Or, like the couple in the story, we try to use a cost estimator and are surprised when the actual bill has tons of charges that weren't part of the estimate (because that's how medicine works in the US).
So if my wife and I can't "shop" for healthcare, given our experience and training, it's wholly unreasonable to expect the vast majority of people who need care in the vast majority of serious health situations to be able to do so. And that renders this whole "informed consumer" argument largely moot. Instead of having healthcare providers compete on cost, a single-payer system would ensure that care is provided and care is compensated, without putting additional burden on the patient (who already has enough to deal with, what being sick and all).
via and and
- Cornell CollegeComputer Science, Mathematics, 1989 - 1993
- Iowa State UniversityComputer Science, 1993 - 2000
computer scientist, ex-university instructor, sci-fi/fantasy reader, geek, living with dopa-responsive dystonia, ex-genetic algorithms researcher, cat-person, lizard- and ferret-friendly, quilter, knitter, tatter, occasional backyard bird-watcher, ex-equestrian, cheezy-movie lover, big fan of the correct use of grammar and punctuation and spelling, casual student of many fields, more-or-less liberal, more-or-less atheist, ultimate Puzzle Pirates' bilger, lover of snark and sarcasm, chocoholic, RPGer, introvert, devour-er of Discworld novels, etc. etc. etc
My public posting mostly falls under the category of "Links to News Jennifer Finds Interesting". Lately, my interest has gravitated to the US dysfunctional political system, theories of economics, and the state and future of US healthcare, with occasional lapses into educational reform, new scientific discoveries, jokes about grammar and spelling, and atheism vs. religions.
5 Ways to Spot a B.S. Political Story in Under 10 Seconds
To learn anything useful during an election year, you need to be able to sort through all of the garbage to find the actual information and
Steven Pearlstein: The false choice between equality and efficiency
What if the relationship between inequality and economic growth is more complicated than Republicans make it out to be? What if we’ve reache
Michael Tomasky on How the GOP Plans to Block the Black Vote
It happens every election: mysterious fliers, robocalls, malfunctioning machines that deny blacks the right to vote. Now the Republican Part
‘The risk of mortality for everyone — prophets included — is 1·0’
Good times in the Lancet.
How I Lost My Fear of Universal Health Care | RH Reality Check
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