Empowering consumers to make educated decisions about purchasing health care services:
With healthcare prices skyrocketing as well as insurance premiums and deductibles increasing, we understand that consumers are desperately seeking transparency in costs. There is so much variance in costs among the providers, and consumers are privy to the insurance negotiations with the providers. For example, the cost of an MRI service at one imaging facility is maybe $600. Another, maybe $900 or maybe even $1500. All of this depends on many factors: The type of facility, the insurance negotiations, so on and so forth. Some providers have started offering bundled (hospital plus physician cost combined) cash pay prices to the self-pay patients. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), 69 percent of people surveyed would feel more comfortable if insurance companies were to disclose what they are requesting to pay to hospitals and physicians for procedures, and 82 percent of people who compared prices said they will easily do so again. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium has increased by 69 percent in the last ten years. With the increase in premiums, it’s clear that consumers ought to make intelligent purchasing decisions in the marketplace to save money, especially with high deductible plans.
Plus, according to the Gallup-Sharecare survey, the uninsured rate has gone up from 10.9 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2016. Additionally, it’s risen to 12.2 percent in the 4th quarter of 2017. We are predicting this number may go up when the 2017 GOP Tax Bill passed with the repeal of individual mandate kicks off in 2019.
Hospitals may soon have to post standard prices for patients online under a proposed rule unveiled Tuesday by the Trump Administration. The proposed rule is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) latest effort to provide patients additional information about the cost of healthcare. This will take effect in 2019 and will apply to Medicare providers and patients. However, this may also influence the nation’s health care system. The proposed prices may not necessarily reflect exactly how much patients pay since insurance companies negotiate different rates. But it is at least a good start for the best interest of consumers and the nation’s healthcare.
So, why is price transparency important?
- Buyers are empowered with the information for upfront charges
- Consumers can shop for low-cost services
- Providers may become innovative and offer reduced cash pay prices to help self-pay patients
- Providers can bundle services and offer discounts
- The cost of care would essentially decrease
The only way consumers can benefit is through price transparency.