The Trump administration recently required hospitals to post their list prices for a number of services, but everyone in the U.S. knows this information is useless. The only people who are charged list price are those without insurance, who typically don’t pay or pay just a fraction of that number.
The useful information is the price that hospitals negotiate with insurance companies, which is where the administration just struck a hospital nerve.
The administration issued a new rule requiring hospitals to publish the prices they negotiated with insurance companies for a number of procedures, hoping the information will allow patients to compare costs and drive down medical expenses.
In an opinion piece timed to go to print when the regulation was issued, Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, wrote:
“The decades-long norm of price obscurity is just fine for those who get to set the prices with little accountability and reap the profits, but that stale and broken status quo is bleeding patients dry. The price transparency delivered by these rules will put downward pressure on prices and restore patients to their rightful place at the center of American health care.”
The move has the hospital industry up in arms. Many joined together and sued the administration, claiming the regulation infringes on their first amendment rights and also puts a huge burden on them to identify and publish the information.
In part, the lawsuit read:
“America’s hospitals and health systems remain committed to providing patients with the information they need to make informed health care decisions.”
The new rule “will generate confusion about patients’ financial obligations, not quell it.”
Something about daylight being the best disinfectant comes to mind.