Business Review Board / July 30, 2019

Hospitals Must Reveal Prices, Says Trump

If Democrats had been serious about “affordable” health care, price transparency is key.

Imagine knowing what a hospital procedure would cost before you undergo it. As we wrote in June, President Donald Trump is working to help patients have access to that information. On Monday, the Trump administration released the official proposal to go with Trump’s executive order last month.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “The rule, if finalized, would reveal how widely costs vary in the U.S. for care. A magnetic-resonance image of the lower back costs $141 at an imaging center in Jefferson, La., but runs $47,646 at a hospital in Torrance, Calif., according to data from Clear Health Costs, a New York company that publishes information about health-care costs.”

“All Americans have the right to know the price of their healthcare up front,” Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement. “This rule will finally expose hospital pricing practices, let hospitals compete on price and is a first step toward ending surprise billing practices.”

Verma later added, “It’s very significant. It’s a turning point in health care and a turning point to the free market in health care. It hasn’t been a competitive free-market system.” That’s putting it mildly.

Indeed, if Democrats had been serious about “affordable” health care, price transparency — not compulsory participation — would have been their focus.

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