We’re told the Legislature plans to consider a bill to study why hospital costs are so high in Wyoming, as though the causes are mysterious. Let me help.
First contributor to high hospital costs: the majority of Wyoming legislators’ senseless refusal to enact Medicaid expansion. In keeping with the old tourism motto – “Wyoming Is What America Was” – we languish in the bad old days when hospitals had to charge insured folks more to cover the costs of the uninsured.
Clearly this is an inefficient and costly way to provide health care, as the uninsured are forced to seek care only in crisis, when the opportunity for less expensive preventive care is gone. And once the crisis is over, there is no care to prevent the crisis from happening again.
Second: in Wyoming, we have no economies of scale. Instead of having a zillion patients to absorb the costs of expensive imaging machines or to support a practice for specialists, we have only a handful. Do the math; fewer capitas means higher costs per capita.
Third: the small population, coupled with the substantial percentage of uninsured, discourages providers from coming to our state. Hospitals have to spend more -- millions more -- to recruit and retain qualified health care professionals at all levels.
While our economic development programs fall all over themselves for a data center with two jobs, health care is willfully ignored -- both as a necessary condition to attract entrepreneurs and as a substantial business in itself.
All of these facts have been stated ad nauseum, as it were, but those who choose to follow the lead of the chief proponent of the study, Sen. Charles Scott (R-Casper), seek to waste state funds on investigating the obvious.
The $250,000 contemplated for the study should go to the entities actually trying to help Wyomingites left to suffer while the Legislature fiddles.