The Corner

Health Care: Don’t Forget the Supply Side

My AEI colleagues James Capretta and Scott Gottlieb wrote in the Wall Street Journal about what a new health-care system would look like. It is sensible throughout, but I wanted to call particular attention to this portion of it:

Deregulate the market for medical services. [Health Savings Accounts] will empower the demand side of the market, but suppliers need freedom from regulation to provide packages of services better tailored to people’s needs. For example, those consumers who maintain HSA balances should be allowed to use their resources to purchase direct care — basic services that keep people healthy and treat illnesses and chronic conditions — from physician groups. This might take the form of a monthly fee, a practice sometimes referred to as direct primary care. Today, this could be considered an insurance premium that’s barred by law.

Hospitals and physicians should also be allowed to sell access to their networks of clinics, oncology services, and inpatient facilities as an option to be used in the event a patient is diagnosed with an expensive illness. Medicare patients should be allowed to purchase the option to consult with their caregivers by phone, videoconferencing, or email. These are only some of the needed reforms. Regulation shouldn’t be an obstacle to entrepreneurs crafting more consumer-oriented services, many of which can’t be countenanced under current rules.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.