President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order to improve the price and quality transparency in health care. A senior administration official said that whether patients would have access to a full database of specific prices or something closer to a range of prices would be decided during the regulatory process.
Trump, in the midst of a re-election campaign, is making a new push to deal with health care in the U.S. He is reportedly also preparing a new plan to help lower prescription drug costs. That will involve a complex give-and-take with hospitals, insurers and others affected. It led the administration to make it easier for consumers to buy short-term plans that last up to a year and for small businesses to join together to buy coverage, though that rule is now on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit. "Today, the president is delivering on that historic promise".
Push back from various corners of the healthcare industry came quickly, with hospital and health plan lobbying organizations arguing this transparency requirement would have the unintended outcome of pushing prices up, rather than down.
Trump, however, argued 'the cost of health care will go way, way down'.
"The president knows the best way to lower costs in health care is to put patients in control by increasing choice and competition", Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said at a phone briefing for reporters Monday morning.
Lack of information on health care prices is a widespread problem. It's confusing for patients, and experts say it's also one of the major factors that push up US costs. The same test or procedure, in the same city, can cost widely different amounts depending on who is performing it and who is paying the bill.
He ripped into Obamacare, though said he had instructed Azar to do a "great job" with the remnants of the former president's signature healthcare law.
"Every time one of us goes to a hospital, within a couple of weeks there arrives an explanation of benefits that contains the list price, the negotiated price, and your out-of-pocket cost", Azar said. It's very risky. The Democrat plan would terminate the private health insurance of over 180 million Americans who are really happy with what they have. The negotiated rates are sent to customers after the services are rendered, the official said, so the information is already out there.
"What if I had been a grandmother or a 20-something with a high-deductible health plan?" the HHS head mused.
Clare Hillen is a sophomore at George Washington University, and a summer intern at the Washington, D.C. bureau of Newsmax.
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