Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’s flippant remark to “pass the bill first, then find out what’s in it,” has led Americans to the discovery that ObamaCare is indeed a “nightmare,” fraught with bureaucratic tangles, the risk to personal privacy, and the real possibility that, when all is said and done, many will have a health insurance card, but no actual health care.
The free market, apparently, will have none of that, however, as America’s entrepreneurial spirit in real health care marketplaces is moving forward, with doctors and patients negotiating health care outside of government interference.
MediBid, for example, is a website that offers Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) and self-pay patients access to doctors who will provide them with quality medical care and direct cash pricing. The site also provides doctors with access to self-pay patients, allowing them to avoid insurance companies who underpay, and then only after months following the actual treatment or surgery.
Ralph Weber, MediBid’s president and CEO, opened the global marketplace for healthcare in January of 2010 after living in Canada and witnessing the need for a free market in the healthcare industry in a place where healthcare is rationed by the government.
On MediBid, patients can create a free, private profile, and then pay a one-request fee of $25 or $4.95 per month for a year of unlimited medical requests. Patients can then make a medical request for the type of treatment or surgery they need, and physicians and facilities are matched to patients who can proceed to collect bids from them.
Weber provided some insight into how MediBid can work for Americans who decide not to sign up for ObamaCare.
“A lot of procedures are a lot more affordable than big insurance companies want us to think they are,” Weber told KATU in Oregon. “If someone chooses to be uninsured next year, the individual penalty is $95 or up to 1% of your income. I think some people will choose to remain uninsured and shop for care as they go.”
One patient, George Law from Chicago, said that health insurance is simply not affordable for him. He requested a colonoscopy on MediBid and doctors around the country “bid” to perform it.
Dr. Scott Gibson of Oregon won the bid, charging cash customers about $800 for a colonoscopy, a great deal compared to the $3,500 Law would have to pay in Chicago.
“You might say come on, you can actually travel from Chicago to Oregon, rent a car, stay in a hotel and pay for your medical services?” said Law. “Not only did I come out ahead, it was less than half the price [of having the procedure done in Chicago].”
According to Dr. Gibson, the huge price difference is related to where the service is performed.
“Hospitals have high overheads, so they tend to charge more,” he said.
Paul Freeman also drove 600 miles from his home in Texhoma, Oklahoma last year to save himself, and his employer, thousands of dollars on his surgery.
According to postbulletin.com, Freeman’s insurer covered his travel costs and the bill for his treatment because a medical center in Oklahoma City could remove the loose cartilage in his knee for about 70 percent less than a hospital near Freeman’s home. Without the change in location for his surgery, Freeman would have paid about $5,000 out of pocket.
“You immediately think, ‘Oh, they’re going to take me into a butcher shop and it’s going to be real scary,'” Freeman, 53, said. Instead, however, he noted he had a “wonderful experience.”
MediBid claims it can save the average customer 50 percent on services. However, the savings are realized because patients using MediBid need to check out a doctor’s background on their own and are responsible for getting test results, such as X-rays, blood test lab reports, etc. to the doctor performing the service.
“We waste an enormous amount of money in this country by overpaying for health care,” states John Goodman, an economist and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. “The only way to get rid of waste is to have people compete in a real marketplace.”
A move toward more free market healthcare delivery means patients need to change their outlook on how their medical care is delivered to them, and do more of the footwork themselves. In the free market, special treatments and surgeries are directed by patients themselves, just like a kitchen renovation or an engine overhaul. Customers investigate service providers who can do the job, get references, and find the best person for the best price.
With ObamaCare being the disaster it is, it looks like any big government takeover of healthcare is going to create more work and greater risk for Americans. Perhaps it’s better to take matters into our own hands so we know what we’re getting.