Yes, Price Transparency Will Lower the Cost of Health Care
- BY FGA
It is difficult to find a truly bipartisan issue these days, but nearly all Americans can agree: People have a right to know the price of something before they buy it.
Consumers expect to know the costs of groceries, gas, and even college tuition before we open our wallets. In fact, we would be appalled if someone asked us to buy these things without knowing the prices ahead of time. So, why don’t we expect the same from our medical bills?
Finally, we do. Across political affiliations, nearly 90 percent of likely voters nationwide want more transparency when it comes to health care prices. It is an issue that unites both Democrats and Republicans in an increasingly partisan world.
Right now, medical costs are hidden from consumers. The inflated prices that result from price secrecy have driven thousands of families into financial ruin, taking resources away from people trying to pay family bills, put food on the table, and run small businesses.
Pandemics and recessions are not the time for health care providers to make it more difficult for Americans to make ends meet, but many families experienced exactly that in recent years. Unsurprisingly, medical debt remains a huge burden even now.
Americans deserve a more transparent health care billing system, one that lists prices in advance and allows customers to shop around for non-emergency medical tests and procedures. The PATIENT Act, for example, codifies Trump-era price transparency rules and strengthens enforcement mechanisms. There’s no need to wait on the Biden administration to finally implement this popular, longstanding reform for Americans.
With upfront pricing knowledge, Americans could shop around and make informed decisions that best meet their health care needs and budget. Hospitals and other providers would finally have to explain why prices vary dramatically from one state to another, from cash to insurance transactions, and even within the same hospital location—and lower their prices accordingly.
The result would be a game changer for every family, especially for those with disabilities and chronic conditions who have to schedule non-emergency medical visits on a regular basis.
But don’t just take our word for it on how this approach can save real money. Following Kentucky’s implementation of a price transparency tool for public employees, state taxpayers were saved more than $13 million—a result of public employees choosing a lower-cost provider. It’s common sense: People will often choose the less costly option when equipped with the information they need to compare prices.
Hardworking American families will no longer tolerate secret prices in our health care system. Like all other goods and services in our economy, medical providers should name their prices out in the sunlight, where people can see them.