Higher Education Could Show Where Healthcare Is Headed

Friday, 10 May 2013 07:39 AM

By Michael Carr

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Government rules already define much of the higher education system. Students at the same schools rarely pay the same price for tuition because of complex financial aid calculations. Aid can be based on any number of factors, including gender and other personal characteristics of the student.

It is impossible for most students, or their parents, to know what the total cost of education will be until after the student has made a decision to accept the admission offer. It is only then that financial aid will be finalized.

Financial aid is determined once parents complete detailed and often confusing forms and submit tax return information to the school and, for many higher education institutions, The College Board. The College Board is "a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity," according to their website.

Parents usually understand that costs will rise each year and they are likely to grow significantly faster than the rate of inflation is. If costs are too high, the student is free to change schools, but the process will be the same at any school.

Financially secure parents usually help their children attend better schools. Lower-income families often opt for less-expensive schools that may not be as helpful in preparing students for high-paying jobs.

This system is now serving as the model for what healthcare will look like in the United States. Financial information will need to be provided before any service is provided. Costs will vary based on personal financial circumstances and there is little that a family can do to control the costs.

Hospitals will replace colleges and health insurance navigators will replace The College Board in this system.

It is likely that in several years, outcomes will be as uncertain in healthcare as they are in education. If education is the model, maybe only the wealthy will be satisfied with the Affordable Care Act.

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