Hospitals should put you in the pink, not the red.
Every year in October, pink ribbons and flamingos go out to raise awareness about breast cancer. However, Pink October should go beyond breast cancer awareness to shine a light on women’s health in general and, just as importantly, the enormous responsibility women carry as key decision makers in healthcare. of their families.
In the United States, women make 80% of the health care decisions for their families, but many of those same women forgo their own health care.
New video released in honor of Pink October highlights that a new law has come into force that should help women not only manage their family’s health care better, but also take better care of themselves of themselves. This is critical, as national health spending consumes one-fifth of the average household budget and accounts for nearly one-fifth of GDP, meaning Americans have to work the equivalent of one day a week just to pay for their care. health.
The video begins with good news: “Thanks to a new federal rule, we Americans have earned the right to know the cost of our health care before we get it, âthe chipper narrator said. “Imagine that? We get to know the cost of our health care before we get slapped with a huge bill that we couldn’t see coming.”
Now, U.S. household financial managers can finally buy health care like they buy everything else: cars, homes, clothes, and groceries.
Ultimately, a mobile application will allow these women to purchase health care on their devices. Once they no longer have to worry about receiving care that could result in a “creepy giant mystery bill,” they can stop delaying getting the care they need. So maybe fewer women would die of, say, breast cancer.
If it sounds too good to be true, for now it is.
Although the new hospital price transparency final rule, which came into effect on January 1, requires hospitals to publish their actual prices, including their reduced spot prices, payer-specific negotiated fees, and minimum negotiated fees and charges. anonymized, online in an easily accessible format, most are not. A recent report found that 94.4% of hospitals were not following the rule.
Most analysts agree that once healthcare pricing transparency becomes widespread, which depends on hospitals and ultimately insurers on compliance with transparency rules, competition will enter our market. health care at opaque prices, causing prices for care and coverage to fall. The price comparison will allow women to find more affordable care and employers to find more affordable health plans. These savings could turn into more household income, more jobs and higher wages.
Yet hospitals still keep patients in the dark. Their non-compliance, according to the researchers, takes many forms:
- Some simply do not display their prices.
- Some, if they display prices, make it impossible to access.
- Some display incomplete lists.
- Others make price lists unnecessarily confusing.
- The few hospitals that post prices show that the prices for the same service vary widely. A cesarean can cost $ 6,000 or $ 60,000 in the same hospital, depending on the insurance plan. Oddly enough, cash prices are often lower than the prices private insurance companies negotiate for us.
- Some hospitals only provide estimates, which do not make sense since an estimate is not a guaranteed price.
- Many hospitals only provide prices after patients have spat out a bunch of personal information, such as their name, email address, and insurance plan, even though the rule is that hospitals must provide prices. “without barriers”.
Worse yet, the government has yet to fine a single hospital for failing to comply with the government’s own rule.
As a result, women who believe they can finally get the care they and their families need at a guaranteed price cannot.
Fortunately, there is a national movement underway to demand prizes and it is gaining ground. From NASCAR to unions, boardrooms to bedrooms, America is realizing that it has earned the right to know the prices.
Now the government must listen to the voters, not the lobbyists, and enforce the rule. They must impose costly fines on hospitals that do not display real prices. And the rest of us need to hold our hospitals accountable, demanding real prices, not estimates.
It’s time. Our hospitals should be putting us in the pink, not the red.
Marni Jameson Carey is the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Doctors (www.aid-us.org), a national, non-profit, non-partisan professional association.