Q: What does the order do?
"Competition experts, including the bipartisan Federal Trade Commission, agree that disclosing privately negotiated rates will reduce incentives to offer lower rates, creating a floor-not a ceiling-for the prices that hospitals would be willing to accept", Eyles said in the statement released Monday before Trump's announcement. In many cases, patients themselves do not pay that amount directly. As a result, it is argued, that consumers are not able to make an informative decision concerning which health plan is most cost effective to them. The real cost is often a huge mystery to patients, and it can vary hugely from hospital to hospital.
The Trump administration has advocated for bringing down health care costs by making prices more visible, boosting competition and reducing regulation. "That's what's driving all of this". "Prices in the aggregate, prices for individual patients, prices for individual services, prices for geographic areas?" This data could be useful to researchers, but probably less helpful for patient health care shopping.
Q: Isn't this information already available? The order requires health officials to propose a regulation within 60 days that would eventually require hospitals and doctors employed by hospitals to post their charges-including disclosing for the first time the discounted rates they negotiate with insurers.
The executive order included several major components, Azar said.
Senior administration officials said on Monday that the specifics regarding the level of detail that hospitals will be required to provide are to be determined during a forthcoming rule-making process. It also is unclear how the administration would enforce the rules.
The main hospital lobbying organization has also opposed this type of disclosure, saying patients are more interested in their out-of-pocket costs. Price doesn't necessarily drive people in the same way that it would if you were shopping for a auto or groceries. That information, designated with arcane billing codes, is hard for consumers to decipher. Currently, hospitals must disclose what they charge, which represents the price they would like to receive. Some insurance companies now publish prices for common procedures like MRI tests on their websites. Coupled with a lower-premium, high-deductible insurance plan, the accounts can be used to pay out-of-pocket costs for routine medical exams and procedures.
"Patients are increasingly subject to insurance deductibles and other forms of substantial cost sharing".
That's how health care providers now work.
The short answer is maybe.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar listens during the Enthronement Ceremony of Archbishop Elpidophoros, as the Archbishop of America at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York, June 22, 2019.
Last month, Azar announced that drug makers will have to start including the list price of medications in their television ads. This would put consumers, and patients in the driver seat. It might also show employers that they aren't getting as good a deal as they thought from insurers hired to negotiate on their behalf, he said.
For too long, powerful interests have blocked patients from knowing the true price and quality of healthcare, denying them the information they need to make informed choices. The president is calling for the prices that insurers negotiate with hospitals to be made public, and a number of people have told me that this could actually cause hospitals and physicians to ask for higher reimbursements going forward.
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit, editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation and is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.