Listener: Why Not Standardize Rates For Medical Care?

After hearing Monday's podcast about medical billing, Dave Goldberg, a physics professor at Drexel University writes:

I enjoy your show every week, but Monday's episode, in particular, hit on something that's been bothering me for a while. While I understand the hospitals' motivations for charging a lower price to a particular insurance company than an individual, I don't understand why the federal government can't or won't introduce a law saying that medical services can't be charged at a different rate for different customers.

It seems like this would almost be a panacea. Much of the ruinous cost of being uninsured would be at least partially ameliorated. For that matter, the barrier to entry that allows individual regional insurance companies to enjoy a near-monopoly would be greatly reduced.

Why hasn't anyone floated such an idea?

The only objection I could think of is that both insurance companies and Medicare would end up having to pay somewhat more, since in essence they are being subsidized by individuals paying more for the same services.

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