Hospital price transparency puts patients first

Hospital price transparency puts patients first

A commitment to price transparency is a step toward a more effective healthcare system that finally puts patients first.

At the beginning of the new year, President Trump’s Hospital Price Transparency rule took effect. The rule requires, among other things, that hospitals publicly disclose insurer-specific negotiated rates for services.

Health care has long been the only industry where customers don’t know the cost of the product or service before they buy it. Past reform efforts to promote price transparency have required disclosure of hospital charges, but in our broken system the price charged is often nothing close to what the final cost ends up being.

That’s what makes this newest rule so monumental – finally allowing patients to know the real cost of a procedure or service ahead of time. Being able to view insurer-specific rates allows patients with insurance to do real cost comparisons to determine if they are getting the best deal. This facilitates shopping and competition that can finally push healthcare costs downwards.

Here’s a good example: My local hospital charges $103.66 for a standard lipid panel blood test. Pacific Source, a common insurance plan for Montana’s individual market, reimburses the hospital $98.48 for the service. Blue Cross, another common insurer, reimburses the hospital $22.13 for the same service. Meanwhile, a direct primary care clinic in Whitefish that does not accept insurance says a lipid panel costs their patients “$7.50, no more, no less”

What do you think is the better deal?

At the end of the day, Montanans deserve to know the real costs of medical services up front, before they are performed. A commitment to price transparency is a step toward a more effective healthcare system that finally puts patients first.

For Liberty,
Kendall Cotton

The Latest

1. Gov. Gianforte revealed his executive budget proposal this week, offering a budget nearly $100 million less than former-Gov. Steve Bullock.

Our Take: A Conservative Montana Budget would put a maximum limit on spending growth based on taxpayers’ ability to fund it – instead of how much a politician wants to spend.

For the next biennium, that means a maximum growth limit of 4.4%, based on the growth of the economy.

Gov. Gianforte’s budget proposal appears on track to be under the maximum limit, so now it’s up to the Montana Legislature to deliver a Conservative Montana Budget.

We believe that Montana could easily spend much less than this maximum limit and still ensure provision of basic public necessities, based on how fast spending has grown over the last 16 years.

2. We are proud to sponsor this year’s annual Economic Outlook Seminar, hosted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana. We very much look forward to participating in much needed dialogue about the state of Montana’s economy at this premier event with top economists. Register for the virtual seminar today!

3. Economists are predicting slower job growth at the start of this year, saying a return of some employment in the labor and hospitality industries will not happen until a vaccine is widely available.

Our Take: Now more than ever Montana lawmakers should be focused on unleashing economic growth. Our Montana Recovery Agenda outlines the policy pathway to get there by focusing on limiting government growth, reforming our broken healthcare system and protecting individual rights.

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