Posted in Access to healthcare, advance-pricing, Economic Issues, Health Insurance, Healthcare financing, Medicaid, Medical Costs, medical inflation, Medical Practice Models, Medicare, out-of-pocket costs, Patient Choice, Price Tansparency, Quality, Uncategorized

G. Keith Smith, M.D. — Health “Coverage” as a Distraction


I think it is good to be alert to any discussions that are “downstream of a flawed premise.” Let me explain.

When I hear, for instance, that the “flat tax” is preferable to the current income tax, I think to myself that this is a discussion of the knife versus the axe, a conversation far downstream of one addressing government spending or the very legitimacy of denying someone their earnings. After all, victims don’t generally care what the mugger does with their money. They just resent being mugged and no discussion about whether the mugger used a knife or a gun will likely provide any solace.

Similarly, I would argue that arguing for everyone to have health “coverage” is far downstream of the more original problem: the cost of healthcare. To provide “coverage” for everyone in the current climate of gross overcharging primarily serves the interests of those who employ the “what can I get away with” method of medical pricing.

The fierce push back against true price transparency by the cronies in the medical industry makes more sense in this context, as price honesty denies them access to everyone’s blank checkbook as the health cronies are well aware.

Supporters of government-guaranteed “coverage” object with the following arguments.

First, coverage is equated with healthcare. While millions of Canadians streaming across the border to secure their health needs could be used to refute the idea that coverage is synonymous with care, this disconnect has become more apparent in this country. Each passing day reveals Medicaid and Medicare “coverage” to be a “black mark,” an actual obstacle to obtaining care, as these government programs and their associated rationing through price controls and hassles are creating the lines the central planners intended. Physicians are either dropping out of these programs altogether or they are limiting their exposure to patients with this “coverage.”

Another objection points to the relief from financial devastation that having “coverage” represents. Keep in mind that not only are well over half of the bankruptcies in this country medically related, but almost three quarters of those filing for medical bankruptcy have insurance. This points powerfully to cost as the root cause of medical economic ills.

Acknowledging this is a slippery slope for the objector, however, for no economic system better provides for resource allocation than the market and the cronies and their government pals know this as well as anyone.

The market is the only source of price deflation with simultaneous improvement in quality. This powerful competitive mechanism has brought affordability to countless products and services in all industries and has begun to bring rationality to health care pricing as more physicians and facilities honestly post their prices for all to see.

Rather than focus on “coverage,” which allows the cronies to continue their financial feeding frenzy, we should remain unalterably focused on cost. The competition unleashed will result in a medical price deflation the likes of which will cause even the most skeptical objector to re-evaluate the role of “coverage” in the provision of payment for health care.

This is no prediction. This is exactly what is happening here in Oklahoma where so many health professionals have embraced the same market discipline every other industry must endure. The reasonable prices and high quality of care, have had such a wide appeal that Oklahoma City has evolved into a medical tourist destination for many patients far from here, while simultaneously bringing savings in the millions of dollars to those who actually pay for healthcare, locally.

This is my answer to another objection from those who claim the inapplicability of market competition to health care.  Whether the focus on “coverage” is a deliberate distraction by the crony propaganda machine or a well-meaning but misguided attempt to provide better access to care, we must keep our eyes on the “price transparency ball.” The Oklahoma market is already harshly judging those attempting to avoid this gaze and I believe this trend will continue as long as we identify, challenge and reject conclusions downstream of their flawed premises.

Posted in Access to healthcare, advance-pricing, Consumer-Driven Health Care, Defined Contribution Benefit Plans, Direct-Pay Medicine, Direct-Pay Practice Models, Economic Issues, Free-Market, Health Insurance, Healthcare financing, Independent Physicians, Medical Costs, Medical Practice Models, out-of-pocket costs, Patient Choice, Policy Issues, Price Tansparency, primary care, Quality, Uncategorized

FORBES | Employers Could Slash Their Health Costs Overnight. So, Why Don’t They?

John C. Goodman

“I am often asked if the free market can work in health care. My quick reply is: That is the only thing that works. At least, it is the only thing that works well.

Show me a health care market where there is no Blue Cross, no Medicare and no employer. I’ll bet it’s a market that works a lot like the markets for other goods and services.

In Overcharged: Why Americans Pay Too Much for Health Care (Cato: 2018), law professors Charles Silver and David Hyman make this same point in spades.

After several decades of trying everything from managed care to value-based purchasing, employers need to sit up and take note. The authors say the only thing that really holds down costs is giving money to the employees and letting them buy their own health care. “There is no health care cost crisis in the retail sector,” they write, and there “never has been.”

Atlas MD in Wichita, Kansas, for example, provides just about every service you can get at a primary care doctor’s office for $50 to $75 a month for adults (depending on age) and $10 for a child. Doctors are available by phone or email 24/7. Drugs cost less than what Medicaid pays. Medical tests are cheap.  A cholesterol test is $3, a tiny fraction of the charge that the lab they deal with bills to insurers. An MRI scan costs $400 instead of the typical third party charge of $2,000.

What about expensive hospital care? That too can look like retail medicine if you know where to look. The Surgery Center of Oklahoma (SOC), founded by Drs. Keith Smith and Steve Lantier, posts prices for 112 common surgical procedures. They deal mostly in cash and they don’t take Medicare or Medicaid or negotiate prices with insurance companies. One of SOC’s competitors is Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. The contrast couldn’t be starker, as the authors note:

Integris charged $33,505 for a complex bilateral sinus procedure, which helps patients with chronic nasal infections. This bill covered only hospitalization; the fees for the surgeon and the anesthesiologist were extra. At SOC, the all-inclusive price for the same operation is $5,885. Not surprisingly, Integris’s bill was loaded with overcharges, including $360 for a steroid available at wholesale for just 75 cents, and $630 for three doses of a pain killer called fentanyl citrate, which altogether cost the hospital about $1.50.”

New developments in retail medicine are almost always the product of entrepreneurial thinking. Sometimes the entrepreneurs are medical doctors. Sometimes they are business types with a strong interest in eliminating the many inefficiencies in traditional health care.”

Source: Employers Could Slash Their Health Costs Overnight. So, Why Don’t They?

Posted in Access to healthcare, advance-pricing, Direct-Pay Practice Models, Economic Issues, Education, Employee Benefits, Free-Market, Health Insurance, Healthcare financing, Independent Physicians, Influence peddling, Liberty, Medical Costs, medical inflation, Medical Practice Models, Patient Choice, Policy Issues, Price Tansparency, The Quadruple Aim, The Triple Aim, third-party payments, Uncategorized

Annual Conference | Free Market Medical Association

Forum for Healthcare Freedom is proud to be a Mobile App & WiFi Sponsor for the 2019 Free Market Medical Association annual conference, to be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Dallas, TX.

Since 2014, the mission of the FMMA has transformed from Education to Insurrection.  Our mission is to rouse and provoke those suffering because of the broken system and motivate them to fight back.

The 2019 Conference speakers will motivate, energize, influence, and empower attendees to eliminate the option of retreat, reject the status quo, and emancipate themselves from the deteriorating ship.

We have an incredible lineup of general session speakers, including our Keynote Luncheon speaker, the Honorable Ron Paul, M.D.  All attendees will find something of value in one of our eight breakout sessions covering topics such as Incorporating the Free Market into your Benefit Plan, HMOs & the Free Market, Pricing of Specialty Care, Lies Employer’s Believe, Creating Bundled Pricing, and more! The conference will close with our Founder Panel where Dr. Keith Smith and Jay Kempton will present Burning the Ships: Going All In!

Space is limited, so register today!

Source: Annual Conference | Free Market Medical Association

Posted in Access to healthcare, advance-pricing, Direct-Pay Medicine, Economic Issues, Free-Market, Healthcare financing, Medical Costs, Patient Safety, Price Tansparency, Uncategorized

Pillars of the FMMA | Free Market Medical Association

The Pillars of the FMMA were created due to the wildly varying definitions of free market and transparency.  As this movement grows, many want to utilize the work of the true free market warriors to create new programs, products, and schemes that are not truly free market, or transparent.  All members agree to abide by the literal definition of the Pillars, and the spirit and intent in which they were created.

Join FMMA Now

Source: Pillars of the FMMA | Free Market Medical Association

Posted in Access to healthcare, advance-pricing, Consumer-Driven Health Care, Direct-Pay Medicine, Direct-Pay Practice Models, Doctor-Patient Relations, Economic Issues, Employee Benefits, Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, Health Insurance, Healthcare financing, Independent Physicians, Liberty, Medical Costs, medical inflation, Medical Practice Models, Network Discounts, Organizational structure, out-of-pocket costs, outcomes, Patient Choice, Patient Safety, Policy Issues, Price Tansparency, Quality, Self-Insured Plans, Third-Party Free Practices, Uncategorized

A Brief History of the Free Market Healthcare Movement: A discussion with Jay Kempton & Dr. Keith Smith

by Megan Freedman – Editorial Manager, Free Market Healthcare Solutions magazine

These names are, in many ways, synonymous with the current free market movement, and for good reason. These men are the mavericks of healthcare. When Dr. Smith and Mr. Kempton were introduced in 2011 by a mutual friend and client, they had no way of knowing that their partnership would become what it is today and create an entire movement in the healthcare space.

 

Jay.Keith.headlinephotoJay Kempton: When you understand how this business really works, you can see the effect of the dysfunction which I just described; but when you learn more about the cause, you can see that the patients’ actual financial concern is not even on the radar of so many entities that are part of big healthcare.  Hospitals really do not understand that the gouging of pricing that they do trickles down into basically wage stagnation to employees. They say, “We’re raising our prices, but it only hurts the big insurance companies.”  No, that’s never the way it works.  It eventually makes it way as an increased cost to the employer. They can’t afford to just absorb the increase, so how do they offset that?  By lowering or decreasing the increase of wages or they reduce the benefits, or both.

What is the greatest obstacle that this movement and the FMMA faces?

Dr. Keith Smith:    The answer may be counterintuitive.  I think the greatest obstacle the FMMA and this movement faces is ourselves. We are so programmed and conditioned to look to outside leaders or to the government for solutions and answers. They are ultimately responsible for all the problems that have led to our current system.  The answer is looking to ourselves and having the courage to face the possibility that, in innumerable ways, we have been duped. Admitting that is a very personal and difficult experience for many people—to look in the mirror and acknowledge that they’ve been lied to. Even worse, we have believed these lies and have acted accordingly.  People must acknowledge that it is a ground up movement, not one where solutions rain down on us from our rulers or our leaders. They must do their own thinking and not allow those who would like to be protected from innovation to stop us.

Jay Kempton: The obstacle that’s not so benign is how people in the healthcare business get paid.  Brokers, consultants, and agents have tremendous influence over employers and patients, and the way that they see healthcare.  Many people in the employee benefits business get paid when they make money off the problem. In other words, they’re making a percentage of the healthcare spend.  The problem gets bigger, their income goes up. 

If you could tell someone just one thing about the free market in healthcare what would it be?

Dr. Keith Smith: The one thing I would tell them is that the free market is not about sellers having their way with consumers.  The free market is not about brutalizing the poor, or people who are trying to pay for their own care.  
The free market is about an exchange between buyers and sellers that is mutually beneficial, where both parties emerge feeling like it was a good exchange. Any time that the media quotes some corporate healthcare exec or politician bemoaning the tough future that one of the sellers might face given some policy that might be enacted should be discounted or ignored. The focus has to be on the consumer, and on whether a consumer’s decision to buy A or B is a value to that person.  The one message that I would give is to know that this movement is about servicing consumers. Period. Any concerns or desires that sellers have to be protected from the preferences of consumers must be seen as the source of the problem that we all face in health care today.

Jay Kempton: The free market and healthcare is the only true healthcare reform that has a chance of being sustainable. Anything else is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  

http://ushealthmedia.com/free-market-mavericks-%E2%80%A2-dr-keith-smith-and-jay-kempton/

Posted in Uncategorized

Employers saving thousands on medical bills due to up-front pricing | KFOR.com

sco-building-full-980x360Yet there are still many among us who refuse to believe that price honesty in an open market can “bend the healthcare cost curve” – let alone that it is essential for affordable healthcare. Not only does it work, but is less expensive for participants and also begets higher quality, being intrinsic to the proposition of a mutually beneficial exchange of value between buyers and sellers.

Source: Employers saving thousands on medical bills due to up-front pricing | KFOR.com

Posted in Access to healthcare, advance-pricing, Consumer-Driven Health Care, Crony Capitalism, Direct-Pay Medicine, Direct-Pay Practice Models, Economic Issues, Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, Free-Market, Government Regulations, Health Insurance, Healthcare financing, Independent Physicians, Medicaid, Medical Costs, medical inflation, Medical Practice Models, Network Discounts, out-of-pocket costs, Patient Choice, Price Tansparency, Quality, Re-Pricing Scams, Self-Insured Companies, Self-Insured Plans, Third-Party Free Practices, Uninsured

A Case Study in How and Why Market Forces Work to Drive down Healthcare Costs & Improve Access