NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Giving Up On Managed Care

April 2, 2001

Some form of the so-called Patient Bill of Rights will probably pass, says NCPA Senior Fellow Robert Goldberg. But it doesn't matter much, because the bad old HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) it is meant to reign in have already, largely disappeared. And along with them has gone the thing people liked about managed care: that it was cheap.

  • HMOs have given up trying to control health-care costs; they have simply started charging more; and newer forms of managed care (such as Preferred Provider Organizations) give patients unrationed access to care at a higher cost.
  • Eight years of health care "reform" have -- in a growing economy -- led to fewer people (who happen to be healthier) buying health insurance even though they have more pre-tax income available to do so.
  • Last year, Americans spent less out of pocket on health-care premiums and medical services than they have in more than 50 years.

Today, people have the "right" to have nothing but the most expensive health plan paid for by employers or the government. Unfortunately, the Patient Bill of Rights feeds this entitlement mentality, while the truth is that in health care there is no Santa Claus.

The alternative is patient-paid health care, wherein individuals choose their own level of care, and have economic incentives to be wise consumers.

Source: Robert Goldberg, "Patient Rights and Wrongs," Guest Comment, National Review Online, March 23, 2001.


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