Blue Cross president speaks to business leaders at meeting

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Want to see how health care in America should work? Stuart Campbell says just look at Lasik surgery.

"It allows Americans to vote with their pocketbook," said Campbell, president of Blue Cross Blue Shield for Missouri and Wisconsin. "The price has gone down dramatically. It introduced good old American competition."

But in most cases with health care, there's not enough information out there and there's no real means for competition. Campbell spoke to business leaders at the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce's First Friday Coffee.

"I wish I could stand up here today and tell you that there's a silver bullet," he said. "But there's not."

The biggest challenge in health care is affordability, he said. He also said that there should be more accountability.

In procedures such as a hip replacement, most patients only know that the costs have gone up, he said. But they don't know what a hospital's real reputation is. People don't know the complication rate, the return visit rate or other factors.

"The information is tracked," he said. "But it's not really available to the public."

Campbell said there's also no other industry in the United States where the consumer doesn't know what a service is going to cost until after the service is rendered.

"But it's always been that way, so people think it's normal," he said.

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