Posted in Access to healthcare, advance-pricing, Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), CPT billing, Direct-Pay Medicine, Direct-Pay Practice Models, Economic Issues, Free-Market, Government Regulations, Health Insurance, Healthcare financing, Independent Physicians, Medical Costs, medical inflation, out-of-pocket costs, Patient Choice, Policy Issues, Price Tansparency, Uncategorized

Surprise Medical Bills: We Know the Cure…Few Are Using it

This whole issue of “surprise bills” is a symptom of a more pernicious economic disease which has been driving prices in healthcare for decades; that being, a lack on discoverable, actionable meaningful prices for bundled medical services.

Moreover, the lack of transparent/actionable pricing in healthcare is a derivative of the manner in which we have chosen to code, bill and get paid for medical services.

And most of the legislative and regulatory fixes proposed do NOT correct the core problem.

The corollary being, there are no surprise bills when we use real honest pricing strategies!

Dr. Keith Smith and Dr. Steve Lantier

Case in point…you will never have a surprise bill from Surgery Center Of Oklahoma. They publish easily discoverable all-inclusive prices for their surgical procedures. And, they offer same price to any willing buyer, because they aren’t controlled by network contracts.

Price setting or caps is not the correct response to the problem of this form of price gouging. This knee jerk visceral reaction is shortsighted. Price setting ALWAYS distorts markets in negative ways which are not always apparent; shortages or supply chain inefficiencies/interruptions/gaps are inevitable.

It is NOT the cost of medical care & and pharma that is the problem…It is the simultaneous lack of both transparent & actionable prices, combined with using proprietary contractual formulary agreements as a substitute for honest pricing, which has brought us to this dangerous fiscal precipice. Hiding costs by shifting them or redistributing them is same economically illiterate strategy which brought us Obamacare.

We can do better.

Posted in Access to healthcare, advance-pricing, CPT billing, Economic Issues, Health Insurance, Healthcare financing, Independent Physicians, Medical Costs, medical inflation, Medical Practice Models, Policy Issues, Uncategorized

Wheel of Misfortune: The Fix

downloadHealthcare Transparency initiatives like the Alexander-Murray bill are getting a tremendous amount of press lately; deservedly so. But are these measures a fix or a baidaid?

Keep in mind, out-of-network “surprise” bills would not exist if not for the market surrogate (poor surrogate that it is) that we call PPO networks, which serve to suppress competition by obscuring prices & quality.

So, it is not a stretch to say that surprise bills occur by design. The way we’ve chosen to finance medical care allows prices to hide among the placeholders in the billing cycle because doctors have become defacto billing agents for the carrier networks and their anti-competitive, contractually-mandated CPT billing protocols. And the rights to those codes are owned by the AMA and the RVU dollar conversion factor is determined by CMS which guarantees upward trajectory of billed charges which make the process impervious to price competition.

This whole problem evaporates when providers remove themselves from the contract and replace these unholy inflationary-prone agreements with real prices and/or transparent service agreements.

Fix the problem: Keep the contract between the subscriber and the insurer.