Could an ingenious, buyer-driven consumer experience like Priceline.com or Upside.com solve our health care problem? Serial entrepreneur, historian and dreamer Jay Walker joined Glenn on radio Wednesday to discuss why health care is broken and how his patented business model could go a long way in providing solutions — but it isn’t the entire answer.
“Up to now, Americans have had a lot of choices. But unless they’re super shoppers, they never see what their choices are worth. In complicated worlds like buying business travel or buying health insurance or buying medical care, there are millions of choices. You can’t figure them all out. Software makes it possible for the first time to find choices that makes sense for you,” Walker explained.
However, in the case of applying free market principles to health care, there’s a Catch-22.
“We’re not in charge of our health care,” Glenn said.
Therein lies one of the big problems.
“Glenn, one of the reasons why health care is so broken — one of the many reasons, but one of the big reasons — is that the person paying for it isn’t the person using it,” Walker said.
While most people make a co-payment, it’s the government, insurance provider or employer paying the bulk of their medical expenses.
“And what happens when somebody else is paying for something else and I get to use it? I overconsume: give me the gold-plated everything. After all, I want every test, I want every treatment,” Walker explained.
The unfortunate reality is that no one knows how much anything ultimately costs.
“You go in and ask the x-ray technician, how much is this x-ray? They have no idea. They don’t know. So the seller doesn’t know. The buyer doesn’t know. Is it any doubt the system has completely run amuck on costs?” Walker said.
In keeping with his systematic worldview, Walker explained how a free market health care system can’t solve every problem.
“Again, health and wellness is a system, all right? It’s not a binary A or B thing. If you treat your body like a garbage can . . . you’re going to get sick, no matter who pays for it. So at the end of the day, this isn’t a question of just making sure you’re paying the right amount of money. You bet, we’ve got to make sure rational free market economics, which work for everything well, work for health care. But there are plenty of people who can’t afford health care. There are plenty of children whose parents make decisions for them. This isn’t going to fix that problem. We have challenges in childhood obesity. It isn’t going to fix that problem. We have an opioid epidemic. It isn’t going to fix that. So market solutions are critically important — but they’re important as part of the whole,” Walker said.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program: