An executive order has recently been signed by President Trump wherein the hospitals and health care professionals along with the insurers are required to be more transparent when it comes to the costs that the public has to bear for healthcare services.
As of now, these prices are kept secret. The patients are not privy to the information beforehand and thus do not know what their treatment would cost.
As a result, they do not have the option of surfing through different hospitals to find the cost of the treatment and settle for what works best for them.
With the prices being more accessible, the patients will get the chance to scrounge the market and look for the best options. Hospitals will then have to compete to flourish.
As a result, they would be encouraged to lower their prices and improve their system as well.
The executive agencies have been directed to draft rules in 60 days as per which the hospitals would be required to publicize the prices of the treatments with the insurers. The patients would then be aware of the cost of different procedures in different hospitals.
Furthermore, according to the order, the healthcare providers and insurers would also have to let the patients know a rough estimate of the cost they might have to bear for their healthcare services. The departments have been given 90 days to commence the process. The purpose of this order is to increase transparency.
The hospitals which embrace this practice are the ones that benefit the consumers. An example is the surgery center located in Oklahoma, wherein the prices of the procedures are posted publicly on the website. Their competitors have also taken a leaf out of their book to follow the same practice.
Since the pricing information is kept private currently, the increase in costs go unchecked, which can be changed if transparency is ensured in the proceedings.
Those not in favor of this transparency have presented the argument that patients are often not in a favorable position of looking for best deals when faced with a medical emergency.
While this might be true, transparency in pricing can be quite helpful in the elective procedures that are done in hospitals in abundance along with the diagnostic tests and regular check-ups.
According to an economic report, a significant portion of the healthcare spending is based on elective procedures and cases wherein the patient is not in an emergency to settle for the first hospital that comes his way.
The employers who look to make sure that they save money can now send their employees to the best facilities without worrying about the costs.
Market dominance is one of the factors that can limit the benefit of transparency with regards to cost-cutting. If patients have multiple options as to where they can acquire treatment, hospitals would have to improve their quality and reduce their prices to survive the competition.