Cost biggest barrier to medical care in rigged system


More people in Mississippi avoid getting medical care due to cost than in any other state in America. According to data from the Legatum Institute, healthcare costs are so high that Mississippians are being priced out of getting the treatments they need.

It is high costs that help explain why at the same time that doctors are among the best-paid professionals across our state, almost 80 percent of the state has inadequate health cover.

Why are healthcare costs so high?

Since 1981, it has often been difficult for new healthcare providers to open up in our state. That is because in order to offer new services, new health providers need a permit – a so-called Certificate of Need. Worse, for many kinds of health care there has been a flat refusal to give out new permits.

With some kinds of new providers unable to set up shop in Mississippi for the past forty years, and with demand for health care growing, prices have risen. This has been great news for those protected providers who can charge more.

It has not been such good news for their patients here in Madison who have had to pay up – and, as we see in the Legatum Institute data, those that cannot afford to pay up. This is why more folk go without healthcare because of cost than anywhere else in America.

Imagine if in the music industry the old record companies had found a way to ban CDs or Spotify? What if Blockbuster video had got a law passed to outlaw Netflix in our state? That would be absurd, right? It would be so ridiculous that no one would tolerate it.

So why do we put up with that kind of rigged market when it comes to something even more important than entertainment, the healthcare of ourselves and our families?

Rigged rules that push up the costs of health care are one of the reasons why Mississippi has such poor health outcomes. Yet it is not inevitable. Bad health outcomes are caused by bad policy – and policy can be changed.

That is why at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy we are pushing back against this rigged market. Our attorney, Aaron Rice is leading the fight by taking legal action against this Certificate of Need system, which helps deny families the healthcare they need.

There are, as you might expect, powerful vested interests that rather like the cosy system that keeps out the competition. Rather than deal with the rigged market, which keeps costs high, they would prefer to distract us with talk about expanding Medicaid.

It is only once we appreciate that high costs are the problem that we begin to realize that throwing more federal dollars at healthcare in our state is not the answer. Putting more people onto Medicaid, without doing something to address the underlying issue of cost, would drive up insurance costs for the majority not on Medicaid. The key to improving health outcomes in our state is to remove the crony capitalist restrictions put in place by vested interests.

This is a fight we can and must win.

Douglas Carswell is the President & CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. He was previously a Member of the British Parliament for twelve years.

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