October 1, 2014


Supply Side Health Care Reform (Peter Suderman, September 30, 2014, Reason)

Could the Netflix model work in health care? A doctor's office in Rochester, New York is aiming to find out. Good MD, a primary care office set up this year, charges patients a single, flat monthly fee for unlimited visits. Monthly charges are based on age, and extra services--whether stitches or strep throat tests--are provided for an additional fee, posted online and in the office. The practice doesn't accept private insurance at all. The result is a system that benefits not third-party payers, but doctors and patients, Good MD founder Dr. Thuc Huynh, told local TV station WROC. "Insurance isn't who reimburses me or dictates what we do together in terms of our treatment. So, it's a direct financial relationship."

This is what the future of health care reform could look like: It's provider-driven. It's consumer-focused, with an emphasis on both price and service. And while Good MD isn't the only doctor's office to try variations on this model, it's happening at the margins--at individual practices across the country. 

As Obamacare's has settled into place, the Republican party's promises to repeal and replace the law have stagnated. The law is still unpopular, but the coverage expansion has made the already difficult prospect of repeal harder than ever, and despite years of promises, no obvious replacement plan has emerged. Obamacare's critics in Congress are still opposed to the law, but increasingly seem unsure about what to do instead.

Provider-driven experiments like what's happening at Good MD could help point to a different way of thinking about the problem.

"[Obamacare] repeal is at least not immediately practical," says Robert Graboyes, a Senior Research Fellow with the Mercatus Center focused on health policy. [...]

Last year, Graboyes published a short paper outlining his principles for reform. Those principles include rewards for innovators, autonomy for providers, choices for consumers, and meaningful, transparent prices throughout the system. The essential idea though, is this: Find ways to transform the health system into a market, and then let the real reforms happen from the outside in.

Posted by at October 1, 2014 5:46 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus