A coalition of powerful health care actors and advocates has come together to help make medical prices more available to consumers. According to Kaiser Health News, the “Clear Choices” initiative is supported by groups including the AARP, Novo Nordisk, the National Consumers League, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, the National Council for Behavioral Health and Aetna.The group’s immediate goals include passing the doc fix bill currently before the Senate (the bill would mandate a Medicare data dump) and getting transparency-related provisions of the ACA better enforced. The long term goal is more ambitious:
The coalition’s most lofty goal is to change the health system so that patients can know upfront the cost of a medical procedure. This is a complicated proposition because so many components – among them facility-use fees, physician charges, deductibles and co-payments – are factored into the bill a patient eventually receives.Wanda Filer, a physician based in York, Penn., says even health care providers are often confused by pricing.“Physicians don’t even know where to refer people and they don’t know what to tell them,” said Filer, who is on the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians, which is part of the coalition.
Price transparency is not only possible—it really works. It allows consumers to make better decisions about their treatments. That doesn’t make it a cure-all for our health care policy problems, of course, but it could still do much good. The sooner the U.S. health care system becomes more transparent, the better. The fact that this coalition is building behind transparency, and that it includes diverse groups of actors and lobbies, is a good sign that the movement for transparency is gaining momentum.More of this, please.