If hospitals revealed their prices, would we become better healthcare consumers?

If hospitals revealed their prices, would we become better healthcare consumers?

Donald Trump recently ordered hospitals to reveal their prices.  Will this lead to more competition and price transparency?

According to the NY Times, Hospitals must reveal their charge masters or prices to the public.  Charge masters are lists of prices that are the retail costs hospitals charge their patients.  True, insurance carriers negotiate these rates down, however, unless the posted costs show what it costs for a problem to be addressed, consumers may not have a clue.

An example of this would be if you needed a couple of stitches after cutting your hand.  Often, a patient will visit the ER, have their history taken and then get a bill for a facility fee that is well beyond what is reasonable and then get another high bill from the doctor.   Would the patient understand that and do they have other options to choose when having a few stitches that may be less costly?

Check out this report from the NY Times

Donald Trump Did Something Right
His administration has ordered hospitals to reveal their prices. If patients and politicians pay attention, this could be a big deal.

By Elisabeth Rosenthal
Dr. Rosenthal was an emergency room doctor before becoming a journalist.

As Donald Trump was fighting with Congress over the shutdown and funding for a border wall, his administration implemented a new rule that could be a game-changer for health care.

Starting this month, hospitals must publicly reveal the contents of their master price lists — called “chargemasters” — online. These are the prices that most patients never notice because their insurers negotiate them down or they appear buried as line items on hospital bills. What has long been shrouded in darkness is now being thrown into the light.

For the moment, these lists won’t seem very useful to the average patient — and they have been criticized for that reason. They are often hundreds of pages long, filled with medical codes and abbreviations. Each document is an overwhelming compendium listing a rack rate for every little item a hospital dispenses and every service it performs: A blood test for anemia. The price of lying in the operating suite and recovery room (billed in 15-minute intervals). The scalpel. The drill bit. The bag of IV salt water. The Tylenol pill. No item is too small to be bar coded and charged.

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