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Healthcare price transparency

Medical Providers Are Giving Us The Run Around On Healthcare Price Transparency And It Needs To Stop

Now that the Supreme Court decision upholding subsidies for state exchange enrollees has come and gone, we need to focus on the biggest issue still plaguing health care reform--health care and prescription drug prices. Doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies charge whatever prices they want for their services and products. And we have no idea how much we have to pay until we receive care. However, things are changing. As consumer healthcare cost sharing increases, so does the demand for upfront healthcare prices.

Excuses, Excuses

But our demand is meeting their excuses. Even though about
70% of states and the federal government have regulations in place requiring hospitals, medical providers and/or insurers to produce price lists they keep coming up with reasons why they can’t comply. Or, they send their lobbyists to make sure the legislation is so watered down that the data is useless. Really, how useful are average prices when some areas in a state can charge 1,000 times as much for the same medical procedure.

Of course we should listen to the healthcare industry’s concerns about providing healthcare price data. But we can’t allow them to continue to stall providing this data. Especially as they continue to rake in money and send patients who cannot pay to collection agencies. Besides, it’s been over a decade since we started seriously requesting healthcare price data and they are still using the same excuses for not providing it. Yeah, you know what they are:

  • Price data are trade secrets
  • Price data is meaningless without quality data
  • Prices are difficult to estimate due to the many variables in treatment
  • Price data is difficult to compile and format because of outdated computer systems
All of these excuses have been exposed for what they are—delaying tactics. And what these decade-long delaying tactics tell us is that healthcare providers are not willing to share price data with the public. Therefore, we need comprehensive legislation at the federal and state levels to force them to. No more compromises and no more delays.

Mandating Price Transparency Through Legislation
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