Donald J. Trump
President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order Monday afternoon that seeks to make certain health care prices more affordable.
Trump said during his remarks at the White House that HHS will issue a rule that would require hospitals to publicly disclose amounts that reflect what people actually pay for services in an easy-to-read format. The president added that HHS will also start making information on out-of-pocket spending more readily available to patients before they receive care and that Health Savings Accounts and other tax-preferred health accounts benefits will be expanded.
The president said the initiative, particularly the disclosing of prices, will stimulate competition which will bring the prices down.
However, specifics of how these objectives will be accomplished were unclear as of this story’s posting, suggesting that those details will come during the rule-making process.
“This landmark initiative ... is a truly big action. People have no idea how big it is, some say it is bigger than health care itself,” Trump said at the event. “For too long, it’s been virtually impossible for Americans to know the price and quality of their health care services. With today’s historic action, we are fundamentally changing the nature of the health care marketplace. This is something bigger than anything else we have done in this realm.”
Larry Van Horn, PhD, MBA, MPH, a researcher on health care management and economics at Vanderbilt University, said during the White House event that the president’s proposal change will be “transformational,” and speculated that some prices for hospital services could be as much as 39% lower with the president’s plan.
“This initiative will empower consumers and use free market forces towards ... lower prices, better outcomes, greater access and greater value,” Van Horn said.
However, not everyone appears to be on board with Trump’s executive order.
Matt Eyles, the president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, said the president’s plan may move health care backward, not forward.
“Requiring price disclosure for thousands of hospital items, services and procedures perpetuates the old days of the American health care system paying for volume over value. We know that is a formula for higher costs and worse care for everyone. We should be accelerating our efforts to pay for health care based on value and quality,” he said in a statement.
In addition, CNN reported that hospitals, insurers and other providers in the health care industry are already preparing to fight any rule that makes them disclose prices, using a 2015 Federal Trade Commission blog post that said “too much transparency can interfere with competition in the medical market” as the basis for its argument.
Stay tuned to Healio Primary Care for continuing coverage. – by Janel Miller