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Commentary

Consumers’ Role in Health Care
Jim DeMint, The State.com, 2-22-06

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, from South Carolina, weighs in on the importance of creating more opportunities for consumer-directed health care.

Like President Bush, I advocate expanding Health Savings Accounts. …But for HSAs to reach their full potential, we must change the way we are doing business. The federal government must stop forcing physicians and hospitals to use the complex price-fixing schemes it has developed and instead urge providers to simplify and publish prices so patients can “shop” for the best price.
I have also introduced the Health Care Choice Act that would turn the health insurance market, currently regulated by each state, into an interstate commerce market. This would spur competition among insurance providers by creating regional or national markets, allowing families to choose from a wide variety of health plans to fit their specific needs.
We are at a crossroads in health care. Either we continue down the path of Washington bureaucrats making health care decisions or we create a bold new paradigm that puts patients and caregivers in charge.

Senator DeMint is right that Washington’s vaunted health care reforms won’t go very far if consumers can’t shop for health care based on transparent pricing and quality information on both health insurance and medical services. By helping to aggregate and distribute information on prices and quality, the federal government can help tip the balance of power in favor of consumers without large, new outlays or heavy-handed regulations.



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