The Trump administration has been working all year to get hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to ante up and disclose their list price for their services and products. Most recently, President Trump issued a rule requiring hospitals to reveal secret negotiations with insurance companies regarding different prices for the same procedure. The hospitals would then be required to disclose this information to patients before admittance so that patients could make more informed choices for their healthcare with cost as a potentially deciding factor for when and if to get a procedure.
Hospital associations immediately sued Trump in an effort to keep their price negotiations behind closed doors. The Trump administration is confident the rule will withstand litigation, but only time will tell.
For now, here’s the takeaway: Putting heat on hospitals to increase transparency regarding rates is a step in the right direction for patients. Bills from emergency procedures are often inflated and vary widely based on whether the provider is in or out of the insurance company’s network. Self-pay is typically high, except when patients are able to pay cash upfront, in which case they usually receive a substantial discount.
There needs to be some method to the madness that is healthcare service pricing. Perhaps revealing the negotiated rates can help level the playing field and rationalize the expenses down to a rate that patients can actually afford. In any case, patients can always ask a provider for an estimate of costs before a scheduled procedure. Hopefully, Trump’s rule will withstand the court system and help bring more transparency to the medical system.