August 12th, 2009
05:13 PM ET

Setting mandatory prices for healthcare?

Program Note: Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta tonight on AC360º at 10 P.M. ET . He'll answer more questions about health care and how reform might affect you.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/02/24/healthmag.cranky.doctor/art.doctors.circle.gi.jpg]

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

From Cindy in Covington, Georgia:

“Why doesn’t the government make mandatory prices for doctors and their services? That’s the problem. They all charge outrageous prices and vary from place to place. Will that change in the new plan?”


Well, first of all, Cindy, you’re absolutely right. It’s amazing, even within Medicare you have widely varied prices across the country. One operation in one state might cost $6,000, but in another state, the same operation might cost $17,000. So it does vary even for those covered under Medicare right now.

We are hearing some of the specifics of these health care bills. Nothing has been set in stone but we’re hearing that there may be caps on out-of-pocket expenses and full coverage for preventive care.

What we are not hearing are specifics about is whether there will be a set price for various procedures and tests. We asked the White House specifically about that and we were told no, there is no plan in any of the bills so far to set prices across the board, across the country.

The idea is that the government would have a public option for some Americans. This option is for people who can’t afford their health care right now. And it’s based on a percentage of their premiums as compared with their income. If your current insurance premium is 11 or 12 percent of your salary or higher, you might qualify to buy into this public option. And in terms of overall costs, a public plan would in some ways compete with private insurance companies and may influence how prices are set overall.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Health Care
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Medicare Patient

    Dr Gupta/Dave Anderson;
    WHY NOT COVER IN DETAILS what is being done at Cleveland Clinic and Safeway Corp. to lower costs?
    CAN IT BE REPLICATED IN majority of cities?
    What will it take to do that?
    Imagine you became Surgeon General–how would you implement Cleveland Clinic Wellness program in the nation?

    August 13, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  2. Medicare Patient

    In 60's and 70's ,we relied on our primary care doctor at nights/weekends.Even at least one pharmacy was open at night/weekends.NOW only ER is open and they charge 5 times more.
    20 years ago,my PC doctor told me that his son is going for ER rather than PC,because ER pays more and has fixed 40hours/week duty.He told his DAD-I will make more and work less than you.
    If my PC doctor was available at night/weekends-I would pay 50% more to see him rather than an ER doctor who is not as competent.
    1) What's my point: Mayo Clinic saved money by providing 24/7 days primary care thus SAVING unnecessary visits to ER.
    2) CLEVELAND CLINIC and Safeway Corp. saved money by dealing with lifestyle issues.Senator Fritz is not right–when he says-Govt. can not mandate life style changes.We allow insurance co. to charge higher premiums for high risk drivers.We fine if someone has 3 speeding tickets.
    MY POINT: Allow the insurance co. to charge premiums according to SMOKING or OBESITY levels and then allow lowered premiums if they join a legitimate program guided by a doctor and lose 20 lbs,then their premiums should be lower.Each OBESE costs 1400$ extra.WHY NOT charge 1400$ extra and if they reduce weight by 20 lbs.,then remove that extra 1400$/year.
    The current bill is being pushed too fast–to insure 37 million out of 47 million–at a cost of 1 trillion additional dollars.The SAVINGS from Electronic Medical records is small.
    WHY RUSH? GET IT RIGHT–Have a REFORM that truly reverses the rising costs–permanently like Safeway or Cleveland Clinic.
    AC Anderson/Gloria Borger/Dr.Gupta/Wolff Blitzer:
    CNN has done a terrible job–STOP SHOUTING on HEALTH CARE. You know why people shout? When they are frustrated.
    2) WHAT SHOULD BE DONE to reverse the rise?
    3) WHAT is in the Reform bill?How much is the true cost before taxes/cutbacks>
    4) Why are the actions in #2 are NOT in the Reform Bill

    IF YOU DO THAT–Shouting will go down and CNN will being doing its duty properly. STOP WASTING TIMES–by Repeating SHOUTING TOWN HALL MEETINGS. DO SOMETHING POSITIVE by covering my 4 points.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  3. pete

    I can't believe this issue has such strong disapproval rating among so many Americans...

    Poll any country that has public health care and you'll find approval ratings in excess of 75%...it's been said the Cuba has among the worlds best even with their limited resources.

    I'm Canadian and live in a big city...if I break my leg all I have to do is go to the hospital which is only 5 – 10 minutes any no matter where you live, walk into emergency and be immediately looked at by a nurse who will rate my urgency based on my condition see to it that I will get the required medical care.

    No one will ask me for my insurance, or what type of coverage I have...I won't have to read or sign anything – they just fix me up and I'll be on my way.

    The only beef we really have of health care in Canada is that some hospitals have the gall to charge us parking fees...

    How can your system be better ??

    Maybe if you're really rich...sure any athlete, actor ect...will get better and quicker attention in the US compared the average person.

    I Canada those very same people would have to wait their turn...they can't buy their way to the head of the line.

    We all get the same health care based on what we are willing to pay for tax wise. In the end becasue we buy and deal in bulk our over all health care cost are lower then yours.

    August 13, 2009 at 2:48 am |
  4. Garrett S D

    The hyperbole of death panels is NOT out of Left Field, its from the whack-o-Right Field. The left and the right have their valid say-so but please don't confuse the two

    August 13, 2009 at 2:46 am |
  5. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    If Congress would have done their job and complied with Article I, Section Eight, Clause One of the Constitution of the United States of America ("Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States") and passed legislation that gave every American national health care, this would not be an issue.

    The lack of nation health care in this nation is illegal under the Constitution of the USA.

    August 12, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  6. Deborah Maxemow

    Healthcare costs are simply out of control. No one should have to pay $65 for a bottle of Tylonol in the hospital. I suppose hospitals have to cover the cost of providing care to the uninsured? No one should be denied any kind of recommended preventative care. Preventative care will ultimately cost less than advanced disease due to a patient not receiving early testing. The introduction of "caps on out-of-pocket expenses and full coverage for preventive care" would save lives. Isn't it about time?

    August 12, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  7. Cindy

    Well I see you all are using my question on 360 tonight that they used on American Morning with Sanjay!! That's too cool!! Thanks a lot Cooper!!


    August 12, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  8. Katherine

    The government DOES set prices for health care, at least for the majority of people, by setting reimbursement rates for medicare and medicaid. Most private insurance companies follow suit and set their rates based on what the government reimbursement is. So in MOST cases, it doesn't matter whether the doctor charges you $50, $100, or $200 for a visit, that doctor will receive a rate of $35. He has to agree to contract with the government and insurance companies, and agree to take basically whatever they will give him.

    August 12, 2009 at 5:28 pm |