Want to Know Ahead of Time What Your Hospital Will Charge?  Forget About It

Want to Know Ahead of Time What Your Hospital Will Charge?  Forget About It

In 2019 the Trump Administration issued a federal price transparency rule that took effect this year.  The rule was supposed to give patients,

employers and insurers a clearer picture of the true cost of hospital care.

However well intended the rule was, it has not enabled patients to learn about the prices that hospitals charge for their services.

Kaiser Health News has published an article about the attempts of one of their health care reporters to understand hospital prices and he decided it was futile.  Here is an excerpt of his report:

“I set out to test that statement by comparing prices in two major California hospital systems. I am sorry to report that, at least for now, that status quo — the tangled web that long has cloaked hospital pricing — is alive and well.

“After three months of glazed eyes and headaches from banging my head against walls of numbers, I am throwing in the towel. It was a fool’s errand. My efforts ultimately yielded just one helpful piece of advice: Don’t try this at home.”

A critical part of the free-market system as it operates in this country is that we know how much the goods and services we want to buy will cost us so that we, as consumers, can decide whether, for instance, we will buy bread and milk from grocery store A or grocery store B.  If we do not know what they cost we cannot determine which we can afford.

That is why President Biden issued the order we reported on above.  Competition is being stifled and consumers have less and less of the information they need to make informed decisions about what they buy.

This is especially true in health care.  And while TSCL does not believe the free market can or should be the sole determining factor in much of health care, we do believe it can, in many areas, reduce the costs of health care if patients know what they will have to pay.

That is why we are supportive of the President’s order and why we believe further action is needed to force hospitals and other health care providers to be transparent about the prices they charge.

If you wish to read the entire Kaiser Health News article you can go here: