Price Discrimination in Health Care

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Price Discrimination in Health Care

Table of Contents
Abstract3
Price discrimination4
The uninsured or self-pay patient5
Price discrimination in health care6
Cost shifting8
Recommendations9

Abstract
The price of health care can vary dramatically depending on insurance coverage, and whether the care received was in network, out of network, government funded, or self-pay (Miller, 2012). Price discrimination is used by many industries such as airlines, hotels, and grocery stores with rewards for frequent users, or higher price for convenience or last minute reservations (Tiemstra, 2006). However, efficiency and fairness demand that new ways should be found to avoid price discrimination in health care in order to ensure patients equal access to care and economic justice. Uninsured or self-pay patients should not be charged rates significantly higher than those with Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance. Prices for health care should also be more transparent to allow patients to accurately shop for best prices and values in health care.

Imagine a system in which you go to the grocery store and are told that the price you must pay for your groceries is dependent on whether you have a job, and if you have a job the price is dependent on where you work. If you are work for a certain employer the price you will pay is near wholesale, for another retail, another twenty to thirty percent more, and if self-employed or unemployed you must pay a price three to four times higher for these groceries. Unfortunately this is the way our current health system works. Most hospitals charge those without insurance three to four times the price of that paid by those with insurance or government coverage such as Medicare or Medicaid. New ways should be found to avoid price discrimination in health care in order to ensure patients equal access to care and economic justice. Uninsured or self-pay patients should not be charged rates significantly higher than those with Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance. Prices for health care should also be more transparent to allow patients to accurately shop for best prices and values in health care. Price discrimination

Price discrimination is the practice of charging different customers different prices for the same product or service. While price discrimination is not necessarily unethical, the price should have commensurate value for the price charged. If this condition is met price discrimination is not necessarily wrong. It can be considered ethical for one to be given a better deal than another. However, if it is used to take advantage of those with a special need or the ignorance of customers it may be unethical. Under the Robinson-Patman Act 1936 it is unlawful when it substantially lessons competition or tends to create a monopoly. This has been cited in numerous lawsuits against hospitals and HMO’s. Because an uninsured person has limited resources to contest hospital rates class action attorneys have tried to obtain class action status for clients with limited success (Anderson, 2007). Many industries and firms utilize price discrimination because it can have a huge impact on company profits. It is much easier today because of improvements in technology to separate patients by demographic information to maximize the amount they are willing or able to pay (Elegido, 2009). Price discrimination is an attempt to get each consumer to pay for the product the highest price he is willing to pay. Price discrimination is common in industries that have high fixed costs and low marginal costs. Setting prices at the level of marginal costs would make it difficult to recover original investment costs. In order for price discrimination to occur there are several conditions that must exist. The producer must have information about what the...
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