by Katherine Restrepo
Director of Health Care Policy, John Locke Foundation
The Triangle Business Journal recently published an article on the increasing number of surgeries in the local area, due in large part to the aging Baby Boom generation. To meet increased demand, more procedures are being performed in outpatient settings, such as Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs), also known as same-day surgery centers.
Outpatient care facilities bring many benefits to the table. Not only do they operate more efficiently (as surgeries performed in smaller settings result in less turnaround time than in full-service hospitals), but they can also reduce health care costs. ASCs at least partially owned by physicians typically have operating costs 45-60% lower than hospitals for similar procedures.
It seems obvious that increasing the supply of health care services would create a more competitive health care market, thereby lowering health care costs and increasing patient choice.
However, North Carolina’s outdated Certificate of Need (CON) law disrupts this basic economic logic. Its stringent regulations impose an onerous process for entrepreneurial health care providers to expand or build facilities, or offer innovative services to patients. Keeping this law intact protects existing health systems from competition, and limiting the supply of health care upholds artificially high health care prices.
Read on here.