Transparency’s the new accountability. Or at least it should be.
Many of us argue that we can make all the changes to our health care delivery system we want, but the real revolution begins at home – on the individual level – when we start taking more responsibility for our own health care.
But the overlooked flip side of that equation is real cost transparency. You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating almost as much as my soapbox missives on obesity: You can’t ask employees to be better health care consumers if they don’t know the prices.
I bring this up in light of a new investigative report in the Los Angeles Times that ran just this past holiday weekend.
Who knew the big metro dailies were even still doing that sort of thing?
The story, “Healthcare’s high cost: Many hospitals, doctors offer cash discount for medical bills” can be summed up best in the following graph:
“The difference in price can be stunning. Los Alamitos Medical Center, for instance, lists a CT scan of the abdomen on a state website for $4,423. Blue Shield says its negotiated rate at the hospital is about $2,400.
When The Times called for a cash price, the hospital said it was $250.”
And this wasn’t some isolated incident. The paper, by their own account, called seven other Southern California-area hospitals and got similar quotes, with cash always emerging king.
Talk about the best argument ever for consumer-driven health care…
And, of course, this reminder breaks on the heels of a new study from the Health Care Cost Institute that reveals the price of employer-based health insurance has shot up twice the rate of inflation since the Great Recession – despite a decline in utilization. And this is based on the insurance companies’ own claims data.
What the hell happened to supply and demand?
So it’s with this in mind that while I agree with Pete Du Pont in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal about the specter of another Obama Administration, I think his premise regarding health reform remains flawed.
“The most significant policy change during President Obama’s first term was his health-care ‘reform,’ the movement of 17 [percent] of our economy from the marketplace of ideas and physician-patient decision-making to control and management by the federal government,” he writes.
I’m just not sure it’s been in the hands of physicians and their patients for a very long time.