BIGGER not always better

We’re really getting soft-pedaled and spun about the UNC Health Care / Carolinas Medical merger.   I, for one (and as a former patient with both), don’t see much good for consumers in the deal.

When was the last time something getting BIGGER benefited you as a consumer?  (Or, for that matter, when was the last time something private partnered with a government entity and got better?)

My long-time bank merged with a bigger in-state bank some years back.  I went from having a local bank staff who I knew, and who knew me on a first name basis, to a whole bunch of new people who didn’t know me and a bigger bureaucracy to navigate.

At Wal-Mart and Lowe’s hardware, you can probably find a better selection and some cheaper pricing than at the local mom-and-pop hardware store — thanks to economies of scale.  But what about customer service?  Try walking into Lowe’s or Wal-Mart not being 100 percent sure what you need and asking for help.

In the retail world in the Internet age, you have a lot of choices / options.  Not so much for those of you needing the heart surgery or the kidney transplant or the MRI or CAT scan.  You’ve got a select, specific group of providers to pick from for your health care needs.  Thank your legislators, a bunch of very $$$$generous$$$  hospital lobbyists, and the Certificate of Need process for that.  Couple limited choices with the bureaucratic mess that IS the insurance industry, and you get greater concern for process over people and very little incentive to be competitive in pricing or service offerings. 

A medical office I patronize had been partnered with UNC Health Care, but kicked them to the curb.  They appreciated the cash influx and the extra resources, but the relationship bogged the clinic down with red tape and inefficiency.  Have a billing issue?  You were forced to haggle with a call center operator somewhere outside the county, instead of dealing with a customer service rep in the office.

Kill off the protectionist certificates of need.  Let medical providers compete for patients.  Finish the job on ObamaCare.   Those are two simple steps to get the ball rolling on dramatically improving health care delivery for consumers. Deeper government involvement is the last thing we need.