In the Health Affairs blog, Brian Blase argues that a policy price tag for future medical system pandemic aid should be price transparency:
it’s time for these industries to help American families and businesses and drop their fight against health care price transparency. This starts by equipping Americans—both families and employers—with tools to be better purchasers of health care. Specifically, Congress should lock in the Trump administration’s price transparency rules to end the legal battles over them and to give the American people the information they need to make smarter decisions about their health care and coverage. Enhanced shopping will increase competitive pressures in health care markets and lead to lower prices and enhanced quality of care.
Price transparency is not a panacea. It probably helps ( depends on how transferrable the Danish concrete market is to the US healthcare market) but it is not a panacea.
Sarah Kliff in today’s New York Times reports on price transparency and legalized looting for COVID testing:
In a one-story brick building in suburban Dallas, between a dentist office and a family medicine clinic, is a medical laboratory that has run some of the most expensive coronavirus tests in America.
Insurers have paid Gibson Diagnostic Labs as much as $2,315 for individual coronavirus tests….
In Texas alone, the charge for a test can range from $27 to the $2,315 that Gibson Diagnostic has charged….
The recent CARES Act requires that insurers cover the full cost of coronavirus testing, with no co-pays or deductibles applied to the patient. The health plans must also pay an out-of-network doctor or lab its full charge so long as the provider posts that “cash price” online.
Under current law, as long as there is a listed price somewhere, the lab can charge and get paid whatever it thinks it can get away with before someone calls in the press for public shaming.
Price transparency is probably helpful at the margin but as long as there is no other tool that helps to reduce the informational complexity and probable “halo” effects of high prices, price transparency is a limited tool.