President Obama asked: "How do we lower costs for families?" Answer: Tell patients the prices of everything in advance (except in emergencies) or they don't have to pay. You cannot lower costs if no one knows the price of anything. What is the price of a CBC, Mr. President? - Bradley Hennenfent, M.D., physician & economist
Price transparency is the most basic thing that can be done to lower costs. As soon as people realize that their prescription costs $100 at one pharmacy but only $4 at Walmart, costs will be pushed down. As soon as people realize that an MRI exam is $3,000 at one facility but only $900 at another, they will force prices down.
Patients cannot spend their Medicare Money, their Medicaid money, their insurance company money, or their out-of-pocket money wisely, if they do not know what anything costs.
My friend recently had open-heart surgery. He was not told the price of anything in advance during the entire work-up before surgery, during the hospital stay for surgery, or during the post-operative period. He was not even told the prices of simple lab tests, or for the rehabilitation sessions.
Not knowing prices is why we have runaway health care costs. Third parties are setting prices with unsavory backroom deals. We need to stop this now. Stop the secret prices.
The quote above of President Obama comes from the Health Care Summit of 02/25/2010.
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- Bradley Hennenfent, M.D., physician & economist