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October 4 2019

While Politicians Talk, Private Sector Finds Ways to Lower Medical Services Costs

by Charlotte Hays

Health care costs are a political and personal issue.

The 2020 Democratic candidates are calling for costly, big government solutions that would not be sustainable.

Looks like it's the the private sector that is better equipped to come to the rescue.

Walmart and CVS are both launching health centers that offer such primary services as labs tests, X-rays, EKGs, and dental and optical work at lower prices. The Wall Street Journal has a piece on the trend:

The health center follows Walmart’s business model of “everyday low prices.” A dental cleaning costs $25, a doctor’s visit $40. A test for a urinary-tract infection is $10; a pap smear $50, a vitamin B-12 injection $18. Immunizations range from $39.84 for a flu shot to $223.88 for an inoculation against the human papillomavirus. Although Walmart Health Centers take insurance, most patients have deductibles high enough that they must pay out of pocket, so low prices benefit them directly.

Walmart will face determined competition. CVS Health expects to have 1,500 HealthHubs by the end of 2021. They’ll focus on managing chronic diseases, which are estimated to account for 75% of total health-care spending. Other rivals include Walgreens and a host of urgent care centers.

They represent the private sector responding to a need:

These primary-care clinics are following a path blazed by specialized providers of services not covered by insurance, such as Lasik vision correction. Lasik is 20% to 30% cheaper after inflation, and significantly better, than it was 10 years ago. Specialized retailers also offer prescription eyeglasses, cosmetic surgery, fertility treatments and vasectomies. They post prices, hold sales and offer financing plans. Ambulatory surgery centers are getting into the act, offering transparent pricing and disclosing their infection rates.

Why are major retailers entering the health-care market now? Because tens of millions of consumers can’t afford traditional providers. Even employees who get coverage through work often have high deductibles.

Policies sold on the ObamaCare exchanges require many consumers to pay substantial amounts out of pocket as well. There are also some 28 million uninsured Americans looking for cut-rate care. Retailers are expanding their offerings to meet demand for less expensive options.

If allowed, the private sector is able to come up with solutions to problems that baffle politicians.

 

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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