Wednesday, May 02, 2012

This morning I was listening to a Planet Money podcast, and an economist was saying that we need to stop kidding ourselves - if we like the social programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security), then we have to pay for them, and the only way to pay for them is to eliminate the Bush tax cuts, eliminate the tax deduction for mortgage interest, and eliminate the tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance.

The interviewer asked, but wait, you're assuming that we can't do anything about health care costs, which are the primary driver of the projected increased debt.  The economist said that he has talked to people on the right and the left, and nobody believes we can do anything about reducing health care costs.

But he was talking about doing anything at the government level.  Although I still hold out hope, and I know that many government agencies are making heroic efforts to try and fix things, I agree that trying to do things at the government level is slow, risky, and could potentially fail.

But this interview happened before the news came out recently that health care costs had actually not grown as fast as had been expected, and that one likely contributor was high deductible health plans (HDHP).

And it became clear to me how important it is what we're doing here at Castlight Health.  If we can't rely on the government to solve this health care mess, then part of the solution needs to come through the private sector.

By providing price and cost transparency, Castlight Health and companies like it are making it possible for members of these HDHPs to make intelligent choices and introduce market forces into the health care market.  By giving individuals more skin in the game and a transparent market, we can help bring more reasonable costs to the health care world.

I think that investors agree this is a huge and important opportunity, given that we just received $100 million in Series D funding.  I think that the health care world is on the threshold of a huge change in how business is run, and if we do this right, giving both cost and reliable quality data, then individuals, companies, the country as a whole are winners.  The only losers are those making way too much money off of a historically hidden and back-door-negotiated market.

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