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On August 6, 2014, Sean Parnell did a presentation about his new book, The Self-Pay Patient: Affordable Healthcare Choices in the Age of Obamacare as a part of The Heartland Institute’s Author Series. During the presentation, Parnell explained why he wrote the book, what it means to be a self-pay patient, why one might want to be a self-pay patient, and what the book means for the free-market healthcare movement.
Being a self-pay patient means operating without the necessity for the government. A self-pay patient may want to seek healthcare without the use of traditional insurance. They may want to pay in cash or use an insurance plan with a high deductible. A self-pay patient basically wants to operate in more of a free market in regards to healthcare.
So, why become a self-pay patient? Parnell gives three main reasons. One, many do not want the government involved in their healthcare. They don’t want their medical information in a national database or they don’t want the government telling them what type of insurance they need or what it must cover. Another reason is to simply eliminate the bureaucracy and the associated headache of dealing with a third party. The last main reason to become a self-pay patient Parnell discusses is that it is less expensive.
The lower cost of being a self-pay patient is the main focus of Parnell’s book and presentation. He gives many examples and resources of how this can save money. For example, Parnell refers to a man who saved thousands of dollars by traveling to a doctor in Oregon after comparing prices for a procedure. He also mentions a website that compiles price lists for those who are looking for cheaper options. These examples are more in line with a real free market that Parnell desires.
Patients are not the only ones who may want to operate in this manner. Parnell describes doctors and clinics that also cutout the middleman. These clinics would rather accept only cash, check or card instead of dealing with insurance and the government. In many cases, these clinics are intended to deal with a limited amount of procedures.
But what about dealing with major issues? Parnell describes various mechanisms a person could use to ensure coverage when dealing with a catastrophic event. One example of this is called “a healthcare sharing ministry.” This organization is a group that shares medical expenses. While it operates in a similar manner as a traditional insurance company, the savings could be substantial.
When listening to Parnell, it is obvious that he has a wealth of information regarding the healthcare system. The solutions that he provides are a breath of fresh air for those who are concerned with the continuing implementation of Obamacare. While we may still be far from a free market in healthcare, becoming a self-pay patient may get us a little closer to that goal.