In the ongoing debate over healthcare reform in the United States, Regina Herzlinger stands out as one of the nation's leading advocates of market-driven, consumer-oriented health reform. Dr. Oz talks with Regina, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of Who Killed HealthCare?, about her solution to America's healthcare dilemma.
Regina says there are two major economic theories today for how to best deal with healthcare reform. The first supports creating big companies and big government in hopes of generating greater efficiency and standardized quality.
The second theory, which Regina advocates, proposes just the opposite—Regina says "big is ugly" and that the solution for healthcare lies in a national system that requires individuals to buy health insurance. "Let the flowers bloom," she says. "Give people money, give them information, make them smart and make them wealthy enough so that they can buy health insurance and let them change the market."
Regina says the current healthcare system today is failing because it is not truly a market-driven system. Patients and doctors lose as insurers, hospitals and the government battle for control. "When you don't hold somebody accountable for what they're doing, of course they're going to do what's right for them more than what's right for the customer—and the customer is voiceless," she says.
Regina says market-driven healthcare can succeed in the United States just as it has in Switzerland, which she cites as her favorite model. The vast majority of Americans would buy their own health insurance with help in the form of tax breaks, while the poorest Americans would receive government subsidies.
Moreover, she says consumers would finally get the choice, transparency and services they deserve. "We've got a number of problems to solve … [and] the big government, the big insurers, the big hospital systems—they haven't done the job. We've given them a chance and they've screwed up," she says.