Tentative victory for procedure pricing transparency
by jerry on June 27, 2020
In a tentative victory for healthcare pricing transparency, Reuters reported that a federal judge dismissed a challenge filed by American Hospital Association (AHA) against the current administration's requirement that hospitals publicly disclose procedure pricing. The requirements came out as a proposal last year, and industry expected the requirements to be challenged. AHA plans on appealing the decision, so the ruling might not be final.
Reuters reported that AHA claimed that the disclosure requirements would undermine competition. It is difficult to understand that claim. The AHA made other claims (such as hospitals "resources are stretched thin and need to be devoted to patient care," similar to what the cell phone service providers claimed when forced to support phone number portability), but this particular claim of undermining competition seems far-fetched. Reuters also notes that hospital groups claimed that requiring disclosure of negotiated charges "would create confusion about patients' out-of-pocket costs, not prevent it" -- a claim that appears rather condescending. While disclosure of the prices may indeed be confusing, it at least provides a starting point with actual data. The status quo generally involves phone calls to confused hospital phone operators who might or might not be able to answer the question of pricing.