An opinion piece in The Hill by Hadley Heath Manning, Director of health policy at the Independent Women’s Forum, states the obvious: “There can be no price competition without price transparency.” So why haven’t we yet been able to unite and make this happen to fix our U.S. health care system?
Manning points out that not only do we lack price transparency, we actually lack a health care marketplace. Economics 101 would tell you that you can’t have one without the other.
Of those Americans who took the time -- and it does take time and is not an easy task -- to compare health care prices, 82% said they would do so again to save money. Fifty-six percent of Americans report they have tried to find health care prices, and 67% of those folks have high-deductible plans.
While some health care is urgent and unexpected - which is why it is as important to have health insurance as it is auto and home insurance - Marty Makaray, M.D., in his forthcoming book The Price We Pay, maintains that 60% of health care is “shoppable.”
But we can’t shop without price transparency. As I continually state, like a broken record here, if health insurance took a year-long vacation, we’d immediately achieve price transparency! Providers would instantly be accountable to consumers for their prices. No more hiding behind insurance. No more shell games.
With the current trend to make “Medicare-for-all,” or something like it, sexy - we must differentiate between price transparency and price setting.
With the current trend to make “Medicare-for-all” sexy, or something like it, we must differentiate between price transparency and price setting. Medicare and Medicaid are price setting, paying providers a fraction, which then leads to shortages of care. As I stated in my book, Bill Please: Consumers Driving Health Care, claiming “coverage” is different than achieving “care” - so many of the people now covered by Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion cannot access care because many doctors refuse to accept a fraction of their price, and will only accept privately insured or cash patients.
Price setting, which basically Medicare, Medicaid as well as insurance companies - through HMOs and PPOs - all do, is the opposite of creating a healthy, competitive marketplace that provides quality health care to all. Price transparency, on the other hand, enables healthy competition with the affordable, transparent, accountable, quality cream rising to the top. Americans are smart enough to shop for health care just like we shop for everything else. Show us the money, already!
Source: Heath Manning, Hadley. (4/17/19) “Price Transparency is Key to Functional Health Care Market,” The Hill, retrieved 4/25/19 at: https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/439308-price-transparency-is-key-to-a-functional-health-care-market
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