A recent order by President Trump has emphasized the importance of transparency in the pricing of healthcare, the purpose of which is to lower the costs.
However, the question which warrants attention is the impact it will have.
There is not much detail covered in the executive order. As per Alex Azar, who is the HHS secretary, his agency has been given directions for drafting rules. As per the rules, the insurers, as well as health care providers, will have to ensure that the patients are provided with information regarding the costs they would have to bear prior to receiving the health care services.
This can have quite a significant impact on the healthcare industry. According to Jay Wolfson DrPH, JD, who is an associate vice president of USF health, this move is in accordance with the previous steps of the president in the healthcare area.
In Dr. Woflson’s opinion, the order appears to be a part of a well-thought strategy, the purpose of which is to place more responsibility for health care costs on the healthcare industry and can throw the industry off balance.
According to him, the initiative on its own is unlikely to bring about transparency in pricing.
However, it is the first step in a long journey of actions, all of which would be focused on achieving the same goal.
Understanding the rule better
The thing is, even if the hospital publishes what the insurers and patients pay, the costs of healthcare will not reduce. Patients hardly select hospitals for their procedures. It is the physician which attracts their decision, and thus they select the place from where they would want the procedure according to the physician they want to be treated by.
Furthermore, hospitals have a lot of payment contracts with other parties, which imply that the reimbursement amount that the hospital gets from all the contracts would have to be made public.
Therefore, the burden on the administration of the hospitals would increase significantly. They would need to think where the third party payments have to be posted such that the patients find the information usable.
Proprietary data is another problem that has to be tackled. Hospitals can claim that their data contains confidential information unique to their contractual negotiations.
On the other hand, the government can raise a claim that it is in the interest of the state that the said data is publicized.
Lastly, there does not seem to be a direct connection between the costs of healthcare to the quality and outcome of healthcare. It is the quality and outcome, which is more useful for patients. This data can help the patients in deciding where they should acquire their treatment.
Furthermore, third parties must become proactive in the representation of the interests of their members.
All said and done; this rule does not really play a role in reducing the healthcare costs directly. A lot more improvisation needs to be done in this regard.