Public healthcare prices could spell trouble for physicians and patients

Alex McLean

In January of this year, President Trump enacted a segment of the Affordable Care Act in which hospitals around the country must now release public prices of their services. While this is an admirable foot forward in compromising on the very inefficient Obamacare, the idea needs refining. Those searching for medical care will now have to levy whether they should pay for the more expensive, but expert care, or to bargain shop and degrade the quality of care they choose.
With public prices, patients might try to choose a facility with cheaper prices on surgeries and emergency stays. Although being able to offer the best price for the best care may allow hospitals to come closer to privatization, the quality of care offered in the country will be questioned as patients try to decide if the eight-thousand-dollar appendectomy is worth more than the seven-thousand-dollar variant, all the while suffering acute appendicitis.
Now I am all for shopping around since this allows for lower income families or those needing the general primary care visit to save some money. Also, making the various types of care and prices clearer for patients will likely allow said patients to harbor more trust towards the healthcare society. Additionally, the competition between hospitals involved in offering the best prices to their patients may allow prices to lower. Although I am no economist, competition tends to lower prices.
However, there is a massive downside for lowering healthcare prices due to foreseen competition. It is more than likely that physician take-home salaries will decrease greatly. It costs a lot to pay doctors for their quality work. Despite what is thought about physician salaries, they deserve to be paid for their hard work. Medical school and undergraduate debts are enormous and doctors spend a lot of their time paying it off, so lowering their take home pay in response to competition between hospitals spells issues. Physicians are a needed commodity in the modern world and paying them less for life and death situations is a bad idea.
I’ll admit, lower healthcare prices will benefit a lot of people, competition between hospitals is surely to help with costs. Yet physicians suffering a pay cut is not good and should be avoided. I’m all for healthy competition between hospitals but if patients decide to choose their care based on the price, they could be left with suboptimal care and underpaid physicians.