Let’s Make Patients the Customer, Not the Product, in Health Care

Giving patients control of their care and coverage should be the primary focus of Republican health care reform. And the way to do this is by making patients the customer by allowing them to take charge of their health care dollars.

By Joe DeSantis

With ObamaCare surviving its third major legal challenge at the Supreme Court, Republicans are being offered a chance to redefine themselves on the issue of health care. They should seize this opportunity by expanding their focus beyond repealing and replacing ObamaCare and instead address the more fundamental problems with the American health care system. And there is no more fundamental problem than the simple fact that in this system, patients are not the customer, they are the product.

This may seem like a strange assertion. Surely, health care coverage, services, devices and medicines are the products, and the customers are the patients. But this is not true.

Employer plans account for 90 percent of the private health insurance market. That means the most important customer of health plans is not individual patients, but human resource managers, because they decide where employee health benefit dollars are spent. The second most important customer is federal and state governments, thanks to Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed care plans.

Read More at TheHill.com