NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

GIVING PATIENTS CHARGE OF THEIR HEALTH CARE

November 3, 2005

Hank McKinnell's book, "A Call to Action: Taking Back Healthcare for Future Generations," applies a common economic theme to the health care industry: incentives matter, says Devon Herrick of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

McKinnell, who is the chairman of Pfizer pharmaceuticals, challenges Americans to take back control of their health from a system dominated by third parties. For example:

  • Health savings accounts (HSAs) provide incentives for consumers to shop wisely for health care services, since their incidental bills are paid from their HSA accounts.
  • Another approach is to provide low-income workers a tax credit to purchase their own health insurance, similar to the tax-exemption on health insurance the middle-class workers have.

Furthermore, McKinnell offers some remarkable facts about prescription drugs for those who wonder why they cost so much in the United States.

  • Prices of innovative drugs have actually fallen over the long term, and prescription drugs do not constitute a larger share of health care resources than they have in the past.
  • In 1993, the average wholesale price of 10 best-selling drugs was $44 per month's supply; now, nine of the 10 drugs have gone off patent, and have fallen to about $11 per month.
  • While Americans pay higher prices for name-brand drugs than consumers in other developed countries, they pay lower prices for generic drugs.

The central theme of McKinnell's book, says Herrick, is that individual patients, not bureaucracies, are the key to reforming health care.

Sources: Devon Herrick, "Book Review: A Call to Action: Taking Back Healthcare for Future Generations," Business Economics, October 2005; review of Hank A. McKinnell, "A Call to Action: Taking Back Healthcare for Future Generations" (McGraw Hill, New York, N.Y.: 2005).

 

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