Where’s the Consumer in the Health Care Debate?

One of the more remarkable aspects of the current national debate on health-care reform is the lack of attention to the consumer of health care. The discussion almost completely focused on the supply side–providers and which government agencies will fund health care costs (and how).

This is a striking omission because a consumer-oriented approach could go a long way toward solving our health-care problems. Indeed, the real issue in the U.S. health care debate is cost, not the quality of service. More than half the health-care speding is currently managed by government agencies, through medicare, medicaid or government sponsored health insurance plans.
An excellent primer on the implications of this supply side approach, and how it has led to our current predicament and coming to the precipace of nationalized health care, can be found in Harvard business professor Regina Herzlinger’s book Who Killed Health Care?
She is currently “touring” states talking about her ideas and the consumer-driven solution, having given talks hosted by the John Locke Foundation (North Carolina), the Indiana Policy Review, and, next week, by the Montana Policy Institute in Bozeman.
Tons of great material on this can also be found at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and The Buckeye Institute wrote several lengthy pieces on how consumer-based approaches to health care can fundamentally reform Medicaid a couple of years ago.