A recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal: “We Need Free Trade in Health Care.”
The writers break down potential trade in medical services into the World Trade Organization’s 1995 General Agreement on Trade in Services typology. The typology:
Mode 1 refers to “arm’s length” services that are typically found online: The provider and the user of services do not have to be in physical proximity.
Mode 2 relates to patients going to doctors elsewhere.
Mode 3 refers mainly to creating and staffing hospitals in other countries.
Mode 4 encompasses doctors and other medical personnel going to where the patients are. All modes promise varying, and substantial, cost savings.
While true free trade in medical services is probably a (very) distant threat to the industry in this country, these thoughts are interesting and may hold promise if we continue down the path we are on. Competition, real competition—not the rivalry stuff we have now, would be good for all of us.
After reading the article, read this post on the Health Business Blog by David Williams who agrees “with about half of what’s printed there.”