In the Wall Street Journal today is an article about getting surgery outside of the bounds of third parties, ie. insurers.
The upshot of the article is that what we call insurance is really an arrangement for providers to get a pre negotiated price for services rendered. Seems, if one has some elective medical work to be done and negotiates with the providers up front, a much lower cost is possible.
The author a doc says all the providers got proper compensation.
This obviously won't work in an emergency situation.
Jeffrey Singer: The Man Who Was Treated for $17,000 Less - WSJ.com
Edit add: By the way there are a lot of gems, previously unknow to me in the article. Ex. If using any form insurance or medicare, the doctor is prohibited by contract to offer a cash price service to that patient. Hmmmm.
The real kicker is at the end, in re: obamacare.