Indianapolis, Ind., July 30, 2012 – The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28 decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) may not bring about the medical care cost relief proponents have prescribed.
Lurking among the lesser-known highlights of PPACA, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, is the fact that small businesses will get tax credits—up to 50 percent of premium costs—for offering health insurance to their workers. This is a real plus for millions of small businesses already struggling to stay afloat in tough economic times.
However, even with the far-reaching PPACA mandates, the overall effect on medical price transparency remains unclear.
Picture this. Your primary care doctor refers you to an orthopedic specialist to diagnose the chronic knee pain you have been suffering. After a CT scan, the specialist determines that the only permanent remedy is a full knee replacement. You concur. You ask the orthopedic specialist how much it will cost. The specialist informs you that he doesn’t know. Subsequent inquiries to other health care providers also fail to yield the desired price information. Nobody knows. You have now fallen into one of the darkest areas of health care coverage in America, a place where light rarely shines: Medical Price Opacity.
The same is true for prescription drugs. Just ask your pharmacist for the actual cost of the prescription you need. He may not be able to tell you. Our health care system has evolved a dysfunctional market where insurance companies, physician practice groups, medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers that operate in without published prices. As we all know, prices are critical to the efficient operation of markets. Yet consumers of medical services seldom know the prices paid for their health care. In deed, price information is nearly impossible to obtain. No wonder the health care market is dysfunctional; medical costs have risen x times the rate of inflation and are expected to bankrupt the country by 2030!
As the Libertarian Candidate for the District 53 seat in the Indiana House of Representatives, I call for true medical price transparency in America. In my opinion, Americans will never realize the true cost savings prescribed by the Affordable Care Act until health care providers, medical suppliers, and pharmaceutical companies fully disclose cost and price information to consumers.
Now that the nation’s high court has upheld this new law, I call for all voters in District 53 to seize the initiative and demand medical price transparency. You wouldn’t buy a home or a car without knowing the full cost. Neither should you be expected to purchase a knee or hip replacement without knowing the true “sticker price”.
Kim J. Brand is President and CEO of Computer Experts, Inc., of Indianapolis, a full-service computer consulting firm. Mr. Brand is also a Partner in Server Partners, LLC, a developer of Linux-based small business file server appliances. Kim also currently serves as Vice President of the Cumberland, Indiana Redevelopment Commission. He and his wife Beth Ann have been married 37 years and have 3 children.