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Dr. Mike Jorgensen, Published June 27 2013

Letter: Affordable, predictable, quality health care quickly being lost

This commentary won’t make me many friends in the medical or insurance community.

There is tremendous overpricing, profiteering, waste and financial abuse in our medical health care/insurance system. I recently read an article about a hospital in Oklahoma called “The Surgery Center of Oklahoma” where they post the prices of their procedures online for everyone to see. Most patients pay cash for the work they have done there. In fact, in speaking with one of its founders last week, he said he is more than happy to hear that people do not have or will be using health insurance.

By posting the prices of the procedures for everyone to see, the patients are not whacked by a multipage bill months later where they are billed $10 for a Band-Aid and there’s thousands of percent markup on an injection of a medication that costs the hospital pennies.

There are many fine people in the medical and insurance industry who are doing their best and have nothing but the best intentions. My point is, the system and current arrangement is one that has absolutely no downward pressure on prices or accountability with the public for reducing costs. People are detached from the true costs of their health care because they are just used to flashing their insurance card and forgetting about it. What has that led to? It’s led to insurance and health care costs rising almost double-digit percentages almost every year.

Oh, but the new Affordable Health Care Act will solve the problem. Please name me one situation in our nation’s history where the federal government has gotten involved and streamlined something, cut waste, fraud and abuse in general, given better service than private industry.

Insurance is extracting more and more money from the private sector, and health care costs have no incentive to decline without any competition between providers. Doctors are leaving their profession because of the impending imposition of the (no snickering) Affordable Care Act, and there are several articles I’ve read about the shortage of primary care physicians.

We need a national conversation about these problems we are facing and constructive, market-based reforms on what to do to fix them instead of having something rammed down our throats that no one has read.

There are good people in the health care and insurance industries. There are also situations that promote greed and unaccountability within both. It’s past time Americans stand up and demand solutions we can all agree on that provide affordability along with predictable, high-quality sickness, health and wellness care.

Jorgensen is a Fargo chiropractor.