Unleashing Self Interest Against Self Interest to Reform Healthcare

It’s rigged, people. Insurance companies and healthcare providers are colluding against you in a systematic way while laughing all the way to the bank.

If you don’t believe me, look at the amazing run insurance companies’ stock prices have had over the past 10 years, or the record revenue nonprofit hospital systems are making these days. Doesn’t it strike anyone as odd that the entity sitting on the largest pile of cash in Oregon is not Nike, an international shoe company, but Providence Health and Services, the Oregon-based not-for-profit health system that had nearly twice as much cash on hand as Nike in 2016?

While what is taking place borders on the unethical, especially with the nonprofit hospitals, the actions of the insurance companies and healthcare providers are just an example of organizations doing that which is in their own self-interest within the parameters of current law and, until called to account, this kind of thing will continue.

So it’s time to unleash self-interest so it can fight against self-interest, lay all things bare and let the unencumbered free market forces go to work on our healthcare industry. Fairness demands pricing transparency in regard to the nonprofit hospitals in the United States. President Trump can do this without Congress by instructing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to change the tax regulations on nonprofits offering services. Any time $20 million in revenue is reached for services provided, pricing for all procedures should be posted publicly.

Part of the problem in this entire healthcare debate is one of perception: on the surface, insurance companies, healthcare facilities, and providers want you to think it’s a constant fight between the two parties; the eternal struggle between cats and dogs, light and darkness. If you actually believe that, then you probably also think that WWE wrestling is real competition and that the Harlem Globetrotters are playing a real game against the Washington Generals.

With all the hand wringing going on about rising healthcare costs, no one really wants to talk about the “why” of costs. Rising premiums and deductibles are really just the effect. They’re not the cause of rising healthcare costs, and unless we actually start to address the root problem of those costs, premiums and deductibles will continue to rise.

Insurance companies and healthcare providers have one goal: to see costs go up. God bless capitalism and free markets, however our healthcare industry is anything but free market capitalism at work. It’s a typical Washington, D.C.—picking winners-and-losers in a system that people are take for a ride. The majority of our hospital systems are nonprofits who are abusing their tax status and driving up costs while cutting their charitable benefits to the communities around the hospitals.

By pulling back the veil on what procedures actually cost, by letting the biggest consumer of healthcare in the country outside of government, employers, see all the data and actual costs, Trump will unleash the best negotiators in the world, U.S. businesses, to negotiate lower pricing costs for healthcare. By changing a few lines in the tax regulations, Trump can channel James Madison and set the self-interest of the for profit businesses against the self-interest of the insurance companies and healthcare providers.

Mind you, employers are not going to negotiate for lower pricing out of altruistic feelings for the good of the American people. To imagine that might happen would be naïve. They would be negotiating on behalf of their own self-interests. But that’s the beauty of it all: leveraging employer’s self-interests to revolutionize healthcare.

Regardless of the why or how, it’s the what will happen that would benefit Americans most. By negotiating for lower costs, the employers will benefit the American people by driving down the costs of procedures, even pharmaceuticals, which in turn drives down the premiums and deductibles.

While this reform is not the only fix that is needed for our healthcare systems, we can only get to a patient-centric approach to healthcare by doing one thing: having pricing transparency.

Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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About Ned Ryun

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.