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Proposed Legislation for Pricing Transparency
In the May 24 issue of the online magazine, Modern Physician, is an article about renewed interest in the concept of “pricing transparency” (Pricing transparency gaining renewed interest). Three bills are being reviewed by the Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee that would mandate healthcare organizations like hospitals, clinics, ambulatory centers, physicians’ offices, etc., to disclose full pricing at the risk of financial penalty for noncompliance.
Currently, the prevailing belief is that with all the thousands of variations of disease states, it is impossible to state charges up front. This mindset is being challenged by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including a legislator who is a physician, himself. One issue being discussed is the practice of charging a higher price to patients without health insurance while at the same time charging a discounted price to patients who have coverage. As patients would be able to see these charges up front, they may become more empowered in their healthcare choices. The article states that the bills, “…attempt to give individuals the important information they need to choose where to go for care and how much they can expect to pay once they get there.”
While there is interest in Congress to mandate pricing transparency in healthcare, it is not clear if any of the bills will move out of committee this year. There are a number of other pieces of legislation awaiting hearings, so this one may have to wait until next year before any serious discussion takes place.