Insurers and hospitals love secret prices
The Washington Post
Price transparency in health care is “one issue where the Trump administration may have actually got it right,” said Steven Pearlstein. As costs skyrocket, the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing new rules that would require hospitals to publish “their minimum and maximum rates for 300 common services.” It would also make insurers reveal the prices they’ve negotiated for services and publish them on an interactive website that lets customers compare providers. Hospitals and insurers have teamed up to fight this. Hospitals claim that the rule would compel them to stop offering discounts and raise prices. That’s nonsense. Look at New Hampshire. The state began “listing how much customers of different insurance plans would be charged at different hospitals and labs for medical imaging such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.” After five years, out-of-pocket costs fell 11 percent while the cost of imaging for insurers went down as well. And the insurance companies? You might think lower costs would make them happy. But they don’t actually want to drive down prices; in fact, “both hospitals and insurers profit more when prices and premiums are high.” The thing the insurers “really care about is whether they are getting a better price than their competitors.” Transparency would expose this con game.