The Trump administration is attempting to lower the cost of hospital visits with free market reforms to achieve “value-based care.” Thanks to a new rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) on August 3, hospitals will be required to post their pricing for medical procedures online. The rule also mandates that hospitals must update their prices every year beginning January 1, 2019. The goal of the new regulation is to increase competition and lower prices by encouraging consumers to shop around for the best-priced services.
The Washington Examiner noted that a 2017 study found that “even most emergency medicine health professionals had no idea how much a visit to the ER for common treatments cost. This is a problem because research has also shown that when providers are aware of how much things cost – the cost of healthcare goes down.”
CMMS stated that it would also be looking into how hospitals can “create patient-friendly interfaces that allow consumers to more easily access relevant healthcare data and compare providers.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Fox Business that HHS is “absolutely committed around transparency” and praised the new rule for online rate posting.
CNN reported that the administration is also “seeking comments on how to stop so-called surprise billing – when patients are charged after unknowingly being seen by out-of-network providers – and how to give patients better information about the out-of-pocket costs they will face.” In addition, officials are looking into requiring hospitals to “give patients better access to their medical records electronically or face a penalty.”
The administration also said it is seeking to address “out-of-network bills” and to pressure “providers to increase the sharing of information among hospitals so patients could see all their records…” The entire rule proposal is 1,900 pages that “eliminates several dozen” regulations the agency called “duplicative, overly-burdensome or out-of-date.”