Oh, no—don't tell me I've got to start agreeing with doctor and State Senator R. Blake Curd:
The orthopedic surgeon steps out from the operating table to encourage our Yes vote on Initiated Measure 17, the "Any Willing Provider" insurance proposal. IM 17 revives a bill defeated in the 2013 Legislature that would allow any health care provider who meets an insurance company's terms (quality of care, billing rates) to participate in that insurer's network.
Short form: all those state employees in Brookings who have to drive down to Sioux Falls to lower their out-of-pocket costs could go to their local hospital, pay lower in-network copays, and miss less work.
The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations opposes IM 17, contending primarily that Any Willing Provider laws increase health care costs. Klick and Wright (2012) support that contention; however, only the increase in drug expenditures is statistically significant; the minor increases in physician and hospital expenditures is not statistically significant.
South Dakota already has an Any Willing Provider law for pharmacy services (SDCL 58-18-37, on the books since 1990). USD economist Michael Allgrunn and co-author Brandon Haiar (2012) analyze the cost impact of AWP laws specifically affecting physicians and find that a law like IM 17 would actually lower costs.
The cost issue is open for debate and dueling studies. The other major claim opponents make, that IM17 is "another mandate with more government control over health care" sounds entirely bogus:
The only people who would chafe under the perception of government control would be the big hospitals who are selling insurance and limiting their customers to their network. Health care consumers wouldn't feel that government is restricting their decisions; policyholders would experience control over their health care decisions shifting from their insurer to themselves. They would be able to choose from a broader network of providers.
I'm open to the cost debate, but let's put the anxiety over government-run health care to bed. IM 17 really would increase patient choice.