To The Herald-Whig:
I read with great interest the Viewpoint article by Robert Samuelson in Wednesday's Herald-Whig. In it he stated: "Uncontrolled health spending isn't simply crowding out other government programs; it's also damping overall living standards."
The solution, of course, is plagued with partisan fighting and philosophical differences. There is a step, however, that could be taken with very little cost and with possible Republican, Democratic and presidential support. Simply require each medical and dental service provider to have a clear price list for the services offered. This would be posted at the facility and given to each patient.
At the recent Senior Health Fair at the Senior Center, I stopped at the stand of a local health provider. I asked the gentleman for a price list. He didn't know what I was talking about. After thinking he said, "What procedure do you want; maybe I can help." I said, "An annual health exam."
"Oh, under the new Obama Health Care Plan it will be no cost to you," he said.
I have learned after 80 years that nothing is at no cost! Four years ago at the same Quincy health provider, I had cataract surgery. Prior to the surgery I tried to learn how much it would cost. I was sent to the administrative office. I had to first prove who I was. Then I was told that it was impossible to know the total cost because there were so many different providers involved. Eventually, after applying strong pressure, I was given a rough estimate.
No wonder total medical costs are so high! The patients, in essence, have little knowledge of what service costs. Many simply hope it will somehow be alright. I personally decline certain medical and dental procedures because of the cost.
If there were clear knowledge of the total costs, ahead of time, more people would use common sense in declining certain procedures. Historically, for understandable reasons, there was little focus on cost in the medical world. Today when more than 16 percent of our national GDP is related to health care, that is a luxury we cannot afford. It would be nice if the providers would, of their own volition, provide public price lists, but they have not. The government could easily require them.
We have good health care in the United States. The issue now is simply cost. We need more focus on that aspect.