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Allowing hospitals to sell insurance is real reform

The solution to our problem of over-priced health care is extraordinarily simple, not complex as others claim, But first a story illustrating the problem.

Two people I know had the experience of going to the emergency room for heart ailments. Each was told that they should stay the night in the hospital for observation and each did. They went home the following day and sometime later received their bills. Apparently it had been determined that their hearts were strong as the bills were $8,000 and $7,000. This should be a joke but it isn't

Here's another story. Twenty years ago, I worked for a company that created a device that could take an image from any source (MRI or CT scan) and transform it (without distortion) to the format of any printer. So, if a nuclear medicine facility spent all their money on a camera and couldn't afford the matching printer, our comparatively inexpensive device permitted them to use the printer they had. The vice president of marketing had ascertained the profitability of the company beforehand counting the number of "nuke med" facilities and the money they would be willing to spend. That's market research.

The point is this: when medical equipment creators are in the market research stage they consider the pool of money, i.e. insurance money and hope to win a piece of it. No matter how vast the pool, cutting-edge machinery and drugs will soak it up unless and until medical professionals take responsibility for the cost of medical care, reign in their appetite for the sophisticated and swank and put the patient ahead of technology.

The problem has been solved by Kaiser Permanente of Oakland, Calif. Kaiser is both a hospital and a health insurance company. As such, it is motivated to keep costs down and provide high quality care. They especially shine when the health matter is a normal part of life such as childbirth.

So, the solution is that the government require/encourage all hospitals and clinics to sell insurance to cover the treatment they offer (i.e. pay it forward). Without stand-alone insurance companies providing hospitals/clinics with a blank check, the free market will work to bring down the cost of health care. The cost to the government is zip, zilch, nada.

This solution doesn't violate personal sovereignty as mandatory health insurance would.

Patricia Frenzel