More than 280 medical providers, patients, and policy analysts gathered at the Free Market Medical Association’s (FMMA) 2016 conference to build support for market-based practices and policies in the U.S. health care system.
Speakers taught attendees how to “use the force” of free-market principles during the conference, titled “U.S. Healthcare: The Free-Market Force Awakens.” The conference was held August 18–20.
Session topics included the Affordable Care Act’s assault on the free market, strategies to reduce health care costs, converting insurance-based practices into cash practices, and influencing the media’s debate over health care problems and solutions.
One speaker presentation and three breakout panels were devoted to the subject of price transparency among providers, pharmacists, and patients.
Three Free-Market Pillars
FMMA Executive Director Meg Freedman says the association supports health care providers who prefer to focus on patient care instead of insurers and government regulations.
“We help to defend and expand the practice of free-market medicine against the interference and intrusion of the government and other third parties,” Freedman said.
Freedman says free markets generate fair prices and mutual value, two of FMMA’s three central principles.
“Price is not a product,” Freedman said. “The care is the product. Value is established when both the buyer—the patient or employer—and the seller—the physician/facility—agree on a fully disclosed, mutually beneficial price for care.”
True to FMMA’s third central principle, equality, a free market equally permits all patients to obtain services at a fair market price, Freedman says.
“Price equality is the basis of any free market,” Freedman said. “Cash is cash. Equality means that any willing buyer should be offered the same price regardless of any factor. In a free-market system, a competitive price should be knowable, publishable, and complete for each patient,” Freedman said.
Politics a Poor Remedy
Mises Institute President Jeff Deist delivered the keynote dinner address on the second day of the conference. He spoke about the limits of politics in solving the country’s national problems.
“We have problems with the dollar in the Federal Reserve, we have problems with the debt, we have problems with entitlements that are expected to be paid in the future, and we have problems with our entire political process that seem to be intractable,” Deist told Health Care News. “We have to consider whether these problems can be solved politically any longer.”
Real solutions to society’s problems are produced by individuals exercising their liberty, Deist says.
“I made the point that in my view, a free society is one where the great economic, social, or cultural questions of the day aren’t decided by politics,” Deist said. “They are decided by markets, individuals, and civil societies.”
Deist says organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) are stumbling blocks to better patient access and provider quality.
“[AMA] is a trade guild at the end of the day, and a trade guild usually results in higher prices and worse services,” Deist said.
More doctors will cash out of the mainstream, third-party-payer model as insurance companies pull out of the Obamacare exchanges, Deist says.
“Cash-based medicine is going to become more and more practical and possible,” Deist said.
Many doctors in attendance at the conference sacrificed potential profits in order to maximize their liberty and ability to provide high-quality patient care on their own terms, Deist says.
“A lot of the doctors in the room choose to make $200,000 instead of $600,000,” Deist said. “To me, that’s a hero.”
Tony Corvo ([email protected]) writes from Beavercreek, Ohio.
Tony Corvo, “Surgeon Posts Prices Online to Improve Transparency, Competition,” Health Care News, The Heartland Institute, April 2016.
Michael Hamilton, “Dr. Kathleen Brown: Opt-In for a Cash Practice, Opt-Out of Medicare and Insurance,” Health Care News Podcast, The Heartland Institute, August 18, 2016.
Michael Hamilton, “Dr. Chad Savage: One-Stop Shop for Understanding Direct Primary Care,” Health Care News Podcast, The Heartland Institute, July 26, 2016.
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