Can Web create shoppers' market for health care?

Feb 12, 2008

  1. Ahnuld
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    Ahnuld Super Genius

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    I ran across this on CNN/Health. I think it is worth discussing since online health insurance has been touched upon frequently on several posts.

    In part:
    "Can Web create shoppers' market for health care?

    "PLYMOUTH, Minnesota (AP) -- You can buy almost anything online these days, but try shopping the Internet for an MRI, strep throat test or even an annual physical exam and you'll run into roadblocks. Carol.com's founder Tony Miller says he wants to increase competition in the health care market.

    A new Twin Cities company called Carol is trying to change that with a Web site that gives consumers a "care marketplace" to search for medical services, compare quality and price and make appointments.

    Carol joins an effort to transform the U.S. health care system by putting consumers in charge and letting the market do its work..."


    Read the article here: Can Web create shoppers' market for health care? - CNN.com

    If this succeeds, there a lot of questions:

    • Is this an idea whose time has come?
    • Who will this affect (us, them, you, etc.)?
    • Will it serve as a standalone adjunct resource or will it be a captive to some established online agencies e.g. ehealthinsurance?
    • Or the carriers themselves?
    • Might this be a valuable resource for health insurance agents?
    • Will this further promote the use of HSAs?
    • Is this a "free market" design that will open up competition and push down costs?
    • Is this prone to abuse e.g. by enabling self-serving gatekeepers or groups protecting territories?
    • Sometimes you get what you pay for, how might consumers determine that the cost savings from one provider to another results in that the procedure of the same quality?
    • Who might be the winners and losers e.g. Medicare beneficiaries?
    • If this is a great concept, then how might the government's inevitable interference reduce it to an over-bloated bureaucracy?

    There are specialty services online, like medical labs, pharmacies, etc. but I do not recall any sites offering a full service for identifying and directing to health care procedure providers.

    Many other programs relating to curbing health care costs have come and gone, but some have taken root - preventative care comes to mind.
     
    Ahnuld, Feb 12, 2008
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  2. somarco
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    somarco That Medicare Expert Guy

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    In order of your questions posed . . .

    No

    No one

    It already exists in spots

    It already exists

    If the agents are smart enough to use it to their advantage (most aren't)

    It should but consumers are too lazy & brain dead to really use the tools that already exist

    No

    No

    Consumers are idiots when it comes to health care. Of course there will always be those who will think they can get Wal-Mart pricing on brain surgery but with Nordstrom quality

    Winners are those bright enough to use the tools

    No impact beyond what already exists

    OutOfPocket | Search
     
    somarco, Feb 12, 2008
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  3. Crabcake Johnny
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    Crabcake Johnny Guru

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    Imagine you think there's something wrong with your car so you take it in. About two hours passes and you're called to pick it up. The bill:

    $120 for the head mechanic's base fee
    $1,234 for a diagnostic scan
    $365 for a computer scan

    Pay at the desk. Oh, and they found what's wrong and you now need to schedule an appointment with the head mechanic.

    Well, that's health care.
     
  4. Ahnuld
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    Ahnuld Super Genius

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    So...DOA.

    Sounds like an exercise in rearranging the furniture. Thanks for the input.
     
    Ahnuld, Feb 12, 2008
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