President Trump signed an executive order Monday that calls for upfront disclosure by hospitals of actual prices for common tests and procedures to help keep costs down.
What would make it more interesting is if the hospital had to disclose what it actually costs for them to perform a test and what they charge a patient for it?
The executive order calls for a rule-making process by federal agencies, which typically takes months or even years. The details of what information will have to be disclosed and how it will be made available to patients must be worked out as part of writing the regulations. That will involve a complex give-and-take with hospitals, insurers, and others affected.
Trump’s executive order also calls for:
- Expands uses for health savings accounts, a tax-advantaged way to pay health care bills that have long been favored by Republicans. 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.
- A plan to improve the government’s various health care quality rating systems for hospitals, nursing homes, and Medicare Advantage plans.
- Better access by researchers to health care information, such as claims for services covered by government programs like Medicare. The data would be stripped of details that could identify individual patients.
Surprise billing wouldn’t be acceptable anywhere else, so why is it okay in a hospital? Patients deserve to be protected with common-sense solutions that will keep costs in check.
The prices Medicare pays are publicly available, private insurers’ negotiated rates generally are not. Industry officials say such contractual information is tantamount to trade secrets and should remain private. If that’s not a “blue wall” so they can keep rigging the system and make extra money for their cronies I’m not sure what it is then.
This something great for the American people.