A new law requires all U.S. hospitals to post their complete price list online in a machine-readable format, such as a spreadsheet, on their own websites.
It is a huge first step towards achieving the transparency consumers require and deserve in fixing our US healthcare system!
The rule, created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is similar to a 2006 California law mandating hospitals share master price lists on a state-run website.
I’m already beginning to see analysis and comparisons with articles starting to appear headlining the vast price differences that is now there in black and white for us all to see.
Of course, hospitals then attempt to defend their pricing, comparing their posted prices to hotel rack rates (which is hurting their reputations even more since we as patients are people – not hotels). But the conclusion, then, is that we can negotiate. The opaque door has finally been pried open and, along with this first step in transparency come a modicum of accountability.
One hospital in the California Bay Area stated that “The amount patients actually pay for hospital services has more to do with the type of insurance coverage they have, than amounts on the chargemaster (master price list).”
Ah, health insurance. I was waiting for a hospital to try to redirect the spotlight back over to insurance, certainly another piece of the shell game, and what they’ve been successfully hiding behind for decades.
But – the gig is up. The door is open, hospitals must now be transparent with their prices, be accountable for their prices, and consumers can now directly negotiate.
We still have a long way to go to achieving the health care system we all want and deserve, but this was a very important first step.
Source: Chris Cumura & James Jackson, January 1, 2019. NBC Bay Area. “New Law Requires All U.S. Hospitals Post Complete Price Lists Online.” Retrieved on 1/30/19 at:
Yeah, I just wrote the last post - and bam, Congress got something done - for now. A two year bipartisan deal to pay the cost sharing reduction subsidies. Don't know if it will pass through the full Congress. Trump supports it - for now. He still has his sights set on a full repeal and replace, though, tweaking the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill. And the saga continues... .
Meanwhile, emphasize to your public servants in Washington anything they decide to do needs to empower consumers to drive health care... .
Is anyone else having Deja Vu? It seems to me that Trump has just done what the GOP was criticizing Obama for - unilateral (and illegal?) decision making on health care, slinging that pen on those executive orders like there's no tomorrow.
I seem to recall the GOP suing the Obama Administration for cost sharing reduction subsidies without appropriation approval through Congress - and winning (which was in appeal), because that is not how our government is set up. Appropriations of our tax dollars are supposed to go through the legislative process - one of the differences between a democracy and a dictatorship.
Trump's announcement last Friday that he has signed an executive order to not pay those cost sharing reduction subsidies to insurers, stating his administration is heeding the advice of the Justice Department, may stick, even in light of the lawsuits that are racking up. There is the sticky point that the insurers were promised those payments by a former administration, and changing horses in the middle of the stream may still end up in legal quick sand, but there also is a legal standing.
Now Trump's other health care related executive orders - selling insurance across state lines and the right to purchase health care plans through formed associations, with some other items added in - the jury is still out.
What can you do? I sound like a broken record, I know - but we deserve transparent, affordable, accessible, high quality health care in America, and until we are dealing with those issues, we won't get it. Tell your public servants in Washington that we need consumer-driven health care.
I realize I'm in health insurance, but just imagine what would happen if there were no more health insurance and no more employer health care benefits and no government practicing medicine without a license. Wham! It's all gone. What would happen? We would immediately have affordable health care because it would be back to the providers and the patients - us. Providers, pharmaceuticals, and everyone else in the health care industry could no longer hide behind insurers or employers or the government - they would immediately have to figure out how to provide us with their services at prices we could afford.
Now, I realize health insurance serves an important purpose, but you see my point. Maybe I, health insurance, the government, and employee health benefits need to take a year-long vacation. When we come back, rested and refreshed, bet you the health care industry has figured out how to do or die. Bet you consumers then have the transparency and the quality competitive choices they need to shop effectively for the health care that is right for them.
I repeat - tell your public servants in Washington that we need consumer-driven health care - everyone except doctors need to stop practicing medicine without a license - and they need to put their eye on the right ball - health care transparency, affordability, accessibility, and quality.
Oh, and there's no room for loner cowboys. This is a democracy, for the people and by the people. We want our democratic system honored, respected, and intact. We elected all of you - not just one of you. Stop acting like Washington is a sandbox. Grow up and get 'er done - together.
Well, now the House has passed their version of the AHCA.
I'd include it here - but it sounds like that would be a waste of time, since the Senate sounds intent on rewriting it.
So, meanwhile, contact your representatives in Washington and tell them you want a focus on consumer-driven health care, you want transparency and you want accountability.
While we're waiting, Kaiser Foundation has done a good job at standing back and briefly reviewing all of the current proposals to repeal and replace the ACA.
Read my book for a broad overview of how we got to our $3 trillion health care mess -- and, most importantly, how we can all work together to fix it!
Policy matters - but consumers driving health care matters more!
Rylan Klaseen & Associates
Serving Southern California: