Trump to order hospitals to be transparent about healthcare costs

Grant Boone
June 27, 2019

In this order, HHS and other agencies are directed to draft regulations focused on price transparency.

"We believe the American people have the right to know the price of services before they visit the doctor", President Trump said in a press conference. "As a result, patients face significant obstacles shopping for the best care at the best price, driving up health care costs for everyone".

'This is a truly big action. People have no idea how big it is. If people are able to shop around for the most cost-effective health care plan, prices will drop, the order assumes. Administration officials acknowledged those concerns and said they would be putting out regulations focused on requiring hospitals to disclose "information based on negotiated rates" and to make it publicly available.

"While details are being developed, it's important to note that hospitals already provide consumers with information on pricing, but publicly posting privately negotiated rates could, in fact, undermine the competitive forces of private market dynamics, and result in increased prices", AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order meant to give Americans more information about the cost and quality of health care services to help them comparison shop before they get care.

The second, signed in October 2017, directed officials to foster low-cost types of insurance allowed to skirt Obamacare's required benefits and consumer protections.

Administration officials say the new order, which still needs to wend its way through the lengthy bureaucratic rule-making process, would help to lower costs by making healthcare more like other industries. It also is unclear how the administration would enforce the rules.

In addition to consumers being unable to get price information upfront in many cases, hospital list prices and negotiated discount rates vary widely by hospital and insurer, even within the sameregion. The data would be stripped of details that could identify individual patients.

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"(P) ublicly disclosing competitively negotiated, proprietary rates will reduce competition and push prices higher - not lower - for consumers, patients, and taxpayers", said Matt Eyles, chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group. We'll have phenomenal health care, ' Trump told ABC News in an interview that aired last Sunday. "It is still an open question of what the government will require here".

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday aimed at making health care prices more readily available to consumers. These are prices hospitals set and have little relation to actual costs or what insurers actually pay.

The policy does have natural appeal from a consumer standpoint, experts said.

Hospitals charging lower rates, for example, might raise them if they see competitors are getting higher reimbursement from insurers.

The order requires HHS to put forth a proposal to require providers and insurers to provide patients with information about out-of-pocket costs before they receive healthcare services.

"It's hard to justify a system where patients can't know in advance what they're going to have to pay for health care", tweeted Larry Levitt, senior vice president at Kaiser Family Foundation.

Prices paid by private insurers can be many times the amounts paid by Medicare, the government health insurance program for older Americans, research by health economists has found.

The executive order also expands the benefit of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and other tax-preferred health accounts, according to the White House.

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