Patients Deserve Price Details
By Editorial Board
April 7, 2018
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy was in Alexandria this week. He was here to talk about the opioid epidemic and meet with local chamber of commerce board members to give a quick update on the happenings in Washington, D.C.
One such effort Cassidy cited as having a strong chance of moving forward involves price transparency.
In short, price transparency is the idea that patients be told up-front what their treatment costs will be and what options they have. “Price transparency is something people can understand,” Cassidy explained, as opposed to the complex issues encompassed in a total healthcare overhaul.
The concept makes sense to us. Think about it — if your refrigerator or car or any other big-ticket item breaks, you don’t just blindly take whatever the salesperson offers and not know what the cost will be until after the deal is done and you have a bill in your hand. Most people would laugh at the idea.
But, amazingly, we’ll do that in a doctor’s office. If the doctor says you need a test — be it bloodwork, an x-ray, a CT scan or some other diagnostic test, we’ll say fine and do it right then without ever asking “how much will that cost?”
We got away with doing that in the past because insurance would generally pick up the tab. But as insurance plans have changed and deductibles have soared, more often than not the patient is responsible for the expense.
Obviously, in a medical emergency patients need to get whatever care the doctors order without asking where they can get a better deal on heart surgery. But insurance will typically cover those catastrophic events. However, in the case of non-urgent and optional procedures, patients should be able to be informed consumers. Medical price transparency would be a solid step in that direction.