Jacksonville, Florida resident Ken Willey sent this article far and wide, wondering if anyone cared to comment.  The article outs Jacksonville’s Orange Park Medical Center as the most expensive hospital in the U.S.  That takes some doing.  The only part of the article more shocking than the charge comparisons to other hospitals (also ridiculously expensive) were the remedies suggested….and what was not suggested.

Charles Idelson of National Nurses United says:

“We would like to see action by our elected leaders, such as tougher regulations on price gouging by hospitals. They should also crack down on predatory pricing by drug companies and other profiteering elements in the healthcare industry.”

Carolyn McClanahan, former physician turned financial planner had this to say:

“In all honesty, I think more people should look at hospital costs and consider going to non-profit hospitals.”

I think it is safe to say that neither Idelson or McClanahan follow this blog. 

Idelson’s is the type of comment that elicits legislative drool, as the political donations flow in to encourage the “crack down,” while the bribes simulaneously flow in to stop the “crack down.”  Running to the politician to solve these issues is like enlisting the help of the mob, thinking there’s no downside.

McClanahan obviously has no knowledge of “non-profit” hospitals, as this designation doesn’t mean they eschew profits, only that they pay no tax.  Why else are billboards covered up with the ads from these “non-profit” hospitals?  Why is their advertising front and center at big sports arenas? 

The most shocking part of this article is what is not mentioned. What is it, after all, that simultaneously forces prices down while giving quality a boost?  How about some old fashioned competition?  Works in every other industry.

But wait!  The same legislators Idelson would enlist have prevented any new competitors from entering the marketplace to solve this price problem!  The legislators have granted Orange Park Medical Center and yes, the “non-profit” hospitals, protection from competition with a “Certificate of Need” law, one which prohibits the entry of a new facility into the market without the approval of the folks who are paid to prevent the entry of new facilities into the market.

The good news is that Jacksonville’s airport has good connections to Oklahoma City.  This medical travel and competition will soon render the “Certificate of Need” laws superfluous.  Folks in Jacksonville should check out our prices.  We can help them with this problem.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.