Shopping Around For Free Market Health Care Alternatives Saves Thousands!
By Dr. L. Voigt Smith, PT, DPT, MSPT, CredDPT
A paradigm shift occurred for Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1989 after visiting an American grocery store in Houston.1 He was astounded at the abundance and quality of food available in a typical US food store and could not believe what the free market had produced in America. At that time, he stated to his visiting comrades, if the starving Russian men, women, and children could ever experience what he saw there would surely be a Russian revolution. To contrast, most Soviets at that time daily waited in lines for hours for a loaf of bread. Unleashing the free market has made all the difference in American food abundance and pricing!
It also can make a tremendous difference in the cost and value of health care. Bestselling author Dr. Marty Makary MD in his book “The Price We Pay- What Broke American Health Care-And How To Fix It”, 2 describes how heart bypass operations in the United States (with equal outcomes) can range in cost from $30,000 to $150,000 depending where you go; he also found a similar range in pricing for joint replacement surgical procedures; many American institutions also refused to reveal their pricing! If you are willing to go out of the country, the same operation can cost you around $15,000. It undoubtably pays to shop around!
Sadly, Dr. Makary’s research has revealed much of American Health care has become characterized by price gouging, self-serving middlemen (i.e. many health care administrators, pharmaceutical reps, medical suppliers, and even some helicopter companies), as well as frequent inappropriate and/or unnecessary care being rendered. This deceptive culture has been enabled for years due to a lack of price transparency for care. Many individuals have found this fact out too late leading to bankruptcy and/or being sued for an inability to pay greatly inflated prices. It’s similar to someone offering to mow your lawn and then charging you $15,000 a few months later. As another example, most of us would not be comfortable eating at a restaurant in which prices were not provided on the menu.3 It’s interesting to ponder what our food in America would cost us if we paid for it the same way we pay for mainstream medical care.4 Consumer protection laws have long been in place which require funeral directors to disclose their charges (i.e.to our loved ones paying for the funeral) before the funeral takes place; ironically (at the date of this publication) the same legal protections for the living with health care costs do not yet exist.5
However, price transparency for health care is coming and promises to be a huge revolution and paradigm shift for health care consumers.6 Organizations like the Free Market Medical Association are a great tool for individuals who want to find transparent costs of care throughout the United States.7 Such transparent and discounted care can include just about any surgery and even skilled physical therapy care. It’s quite honestly just another form of internet online shopping. Many industries who are self-insured are already saving millions by tapping into the bargains available to them through direct contracting with cash-based health care providers.
Finally, our greatest freedom ultimately is the freedom of choice. The free market, transparent pricing, and healthy competition have been among the greatest drivers of American freedom and prosperity in the past and will continue to be. Our current health care system is not sustainable.8 Many believe this is not a democrat or a republican issue; it is an American issue which impacts all of us. Consider how having more options and releasing free market transparency into our current American health care culture can make a huge difference in your life or someone you love.
Dr. Smith is the Owner of Backsmith Advanced Physical Therapy LLC and is a member of the Free Market Medical Association. For more information, he can be contacted at 715-298-5888 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. https://truepundit.com/soviet-leader-abandoned-communism-walking-us-grocery-store/; 2. Makary, Marty, “The Price We Pay-What Broke American Health Care-and How to fix it”, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019; pages 15-35; 3. https://wsau.com/podcasts/feedback/20344/the-answer-to-lowering-healthcare-costs/; 4. https://fee.org/articles/imagine-if-we-paid-for-food-like-we-do-healthcare/; 5. Makary, Marty, “The Price We Pay-What Broke American Health Care-and How to fix it”, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019; page 35; 6. https://www.policymed.com/2019/07/trump-signs-executive-order-focused-on-health-care-transparency.html; 7. https://fmma.org/; 8. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/05/medicare-outlook-2026-625908