TEAR DOWN THOSE HEALTH-CARE WALLS
March 9, 2007
President Bush has introduced fairness into the tax code by giving a tax break to all health insurance buyers. This is a major step toward making health insurance affordable to those who want it, says Scott W. Atlas, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
By making insurance prices transparent to individual buyers, health insurance can then be dissected, compared and assessed for value, an essential ingredient for unleashing the power of market forces and competition.
But there is still more that can be done to extend knowledge -- the ultimate power -- to the patient, says Atlas:
- Government should demand that the prices of medical procedures be fully available and clearly presented to patients before any medical procedure.
- They should mandate that information about the qualifications of doctors be made available to their potential patients; currently doctors are not required to inform their patients whether they are board certified and deemed qualified in their field of practice.
Empowering patients with information and financial control for their health-care decisions will stimulate value-conscious choices. The alternative, widespread government mandates, often only end with negative and embarrassing consequences, says Atlas. One only needs to glance northward to Canada, with its lack of access to timely health care, to see what is so unacceptable about a centralized, government-controlled and wholly mandated health-care system.
Source: Scott W. Atlas, "Tear Down Those Health-Care Walls," Washington Times, March 9, 2007.
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