There is a bill in Congress that would attempt to fill in the blanks. The Transparency in All Health Care Pricing Act of 2010 would require health care providers–including hospitals, physicians, nurses, pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, dentists and insurers–to post prices, including on the Internet. Discounts and subsidies would be listed too. “The public will discover what people in health care already understand, that the price of any health care service is whatever they can get,” says Representative Steve Kagen, a doctor who ran a practice for 25 years before being elected to Congress.
These hospitals and doctors who do not post their prices (and stand by them!) should not be allowed to practice medicine. By not posting prices, they’re automatically saying they don’t give a damn about you, your life, or your financial state. That’s disrespectful and harmful. Financial health is a huge component of a person’s total health.
First do no harm, right?
About 90% of Americans are “light spenders” of healthcare. They spend less than their deductible every year. The 10% of people who are “heavy users” and spend enormous amounts each on healthcare every year…price transparency doesn’t so much apply to them because they’re already insured spending someone else’s money and met their deductible on Jan 2.
Doctors and hospitals make all their money on the heavy users at the expense of light users who would benefit significantly from pricing transparency. Ninety percent of us are being taken advantage of, being kept in the dark, because hospitals want to maximize their dollars from not only the heavy users, but also the majority of us who would benefit from shopping around.