By Ken Lefkowitz
The New York Times, Jan. 17, 2019
To the Editor:
Your article (“Hospitals Post Their Prices. Just Try to Decipher Them,” Jan. 14) outlines how regulations requiring hospitals to post their prices have resulted in data that is incomprehensible and unusable by consumers because of the complexity and inconsistency inherent in our health care system. In fact, this is also the issue with the lack of our system’s cost-effectiveness.
American health care is financed through a free market, which is ineffective in controlling costs because it requires transparency so consumers can compare prices. But the dizzying complexity of both medical care and insurance plan design precludes the consumer from making informed choices.
Primary-care doctors strongly influence choice, and insurance company provider networks limit choices even further.
Rather, single-payer universal health care is quite cost-effective. Expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product, it has proved to be less costly in many other countries. It will wring out the duplicative and wasteful administrative costs of the free marketplace and provide negotiating leverage to stabilize medical provider and pharmacy costs.
A University of Massachusetts study demonstrated that a single-payer system can cover all citizens, including today’s uninsured, eliminating deductibles and co-pays, and still save $592 billion. For employers, reduced absenteeism and increased labor productivity will be an additional cost advantage.
The writer is a former senior director of compensation and benefits, including health plans, for major companies.