Now THIS is what I’m talking about!
From an article in ModernPhysician.com (registration required)…
Pricing transparency gaining renewed interest
Led by a physician lawmaker, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have shown renewed interest in mandating a boost in healthcare pricing transparency, including charges for physician services.
More on pricing transparency from an article in The Hill.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) sponsored H.R. 4803 which is a little more vague, but which still requires that all hospitals in each state report “the charges for inpatient and outpatient services typically performed by such hospital.” This bill has 11 co-sponsors.
Sources in the ModernPhysician.com article discussed whether the pricing scheme would be “too complex” and suggested that if competitors knew each others’ prices, they would raise prices in a given market. If hospitals have to list every little thing, I suppose it could be too complex. I don’t go along with the price fixing argument.
A few simple solutions:
1. If we’re worried about the complexity of pricing all hospital services, require that providers report pricing based upon CPT codes. That way, consumers can compare apples to apples (or codes to codes).
2. Any charges that do not correspond to a CPT code must be explicitly stated in simple English. No charges of $129 for a “mucous recovery device” when all they’re giving you is a box of tissues.
3. Require that any procedure or test or other charge whose price is not published must be provided free of charge to the patient. Patients have the option of accepting or rejecting items once they know the charges involved. You want to charge $129 for a box of tissues, you better tell me about it first. Then your charges will be out there for people like me to comment upon.
This whole pricing transparency thing is catching on. Just read a blog post about transparency from Paul Levy – the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. In Massachusetts. You know, that state where they have insurance for everyone, but access for … well … not everyone.
“we should measure parties’ commitment to change by the degree to which they advocate and adopt the kind of transparency that exists in virtually every other segment of the economy”