President Donald Trump continued his administration’s initiative to transform the American health-care system on Monday.
Trump signed an executive order that requires health insurance companies, doctors and hospitals to give patients more information about what their care will cost before they receive it.
“We’re taking power away from bureaucrats, we’re taking it away from insurance companies and away from special interests, we’re giving that power back to patients,” Trump said at the signing ceremony. “We’re taking one more giant step towards a health-care system that is really fantastic.”
Currently, insurers and medical providers negotiate discounted prices in private and neither party wants competitors to know the details of those negotiations. Therefore, consumers are often surprised at the high price of their care after receiving it. Trump, alongside Health and Human Services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, said patients could avoid those surprises if they found out the cost of medical services in advance.
The American Benefits Council (ABC) issued a release on Monday in support of the transparency order.
“The one health care issue that most concerns employers — the providers of health coverage for more than 181 million Americans –—is the matter of cost,” said Ilyse Schuman, American Benefits Council senior vice president of health policy, in the release. “Improving health care price and quality transparency, as outlined in today’s White House executive order, is essential to driving down costs, improving value and putting money back in the pockets of working families.”
Hospitals and insurers have argued that forcing them to disclose negotiated prices could actually be a negative for existing health care. Some economists have also raised similar concerns, warning that more transparency could causes prices to rise instead of fall.
The order also calls for dramatic expansion of access to claims data and directs the Treasury Department to expand the range of services that patients’ Health Savings Account (HSA) money can be used for.
“HSAs give employers and employees more freedom and flexibility to spend their health care dollars, but these vehicles have been largely ignored by policymakers since their inception,” Schuman said. “Enhancing the health plans used with HSAs to cover more preventive services to be covered pre-deductible is a common-sense move to make people healthier and lower costs in the long run.”
About the Author
Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.