NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 16, 2006

The private sector is developing new technologies to empower patients to be informed consumers of heath care, John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) testified yesterday at a special hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

As a result, consumers will one day be able to shop for health care the way they shop for groceries, predicts Goodman. But in order for them to become savvy shoppers, they must be able to discover what things cost and to compare prices as well as value.

According to a recent Harris Poll:

  • Consumers can guess the price of a new Honda Accord within $300, but when asked to estimate the cost of a four-day stay in the hospital, those same consumers were off by $8,100.
  • Further, 63 percent of those who had received medical care the last two years did not know the cost of the treatment until the bill arrived; some 10 percent said they never learned the cost

Fortunately, while pundits talk and politicians threaten to legislate, the private sector already has developed many of the tools to solve these problems, says Goodman:

  • In the market for drugs, the Web site allows patients to discover therapeutic and generic substitutes for brand name drugs as well as over-the-counter alternatives; the site allows patients to compare prices nationwide.
  • A model developed by Health Market allows its insureds to compare the price they will pay for 20,000 procedures performed by virtually every doctor in the country.
  • A product developed by Subimo allows patients to compare quality and price data for most hospitals in the country.
  • A product developed by eMedicalfiles creates needed transparency for doctors -- it allows medical records to travel electronically as patients go from doctor to doctor and hospital to hospital.

Source: John C. Goodman, Testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, March 15, 2006.


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