By David Palmer
In a 1992 presidential debate, President George Bush famously admitted that he did not know the price of a gallon of milk. Most Americans can probably tell the price of a gallon of milk, but most Americans probably cannot tell you the actual price of a hospital visit.
Because the majority of Americans are insured, the cost of a visit to the doctor is typically paid, at least in part, by the insurance company. The shadows that hide the price of medical care have allowed costs to grow like a fungus. The problem is not only that hospital-visit prices are not controlled by a traditional market, but also that the prices are hidden from customers, who often have no reasonable alternative. It’s time we shed a little light on the price of health care and trimmed the lurking costs.
Take, for example, the gallon of milk. If the price of milk suddenly jumped to $20, most people would probably stop buying milk (or protest in outrage.) But what if someone in your family needed the calcium in milk to survive? And what if you didn’t find out about the jump in price until after you had already bought it?