Better Price/Best Price street signs While hailed as a major step forward for pricetransparency, there's still skepticism about how effective theaction will be. (Image: Shutterstock)

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U.S. health care costs are out of control. Among the myriadattempts to address this are several orders and initiatives by theTrump administration, the most notable being a requirement thathospitals post list list prices for services starting in2021.

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While hailed as a major step forward for price transparency,there's still skepticism about how effective the action will be.According to the Health Care Cost Institute, the actual servicescovered the order represented just 12 percent of total spending and15.6 percent of out-of-pocket costs for those with anemployer-sponsored health plan in 2017.

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Related: Price disparities challenge ability of transparencyexecutive order

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Why so little? The order is restricted to "shoppableservices," or, according to the CMS, "a service package that can bescheduled by a healthcare consumer in advance." This includes 70services specified by the CMS, as well as an additional 230 of thehospital's choosing.

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Health spending chart Source:Heath Care Cost Institute

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The focus on shoppable services makes sense, as it empowersconsumers to vet different options before committing tonon-emergency procedures. As for a larger impact on health carecosts? Probably not. As the Cost Institute notes, "While the amountof total health care spending that is shoppable is not trivial, itdoes limit the potential impact of consumer-focusedinitiatives."

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A better area of focus for employers and employees, their datasuggests, is shoppable pharmacy costs, which, when added to shoppablemedical services, added up to 36 percent of total spending in2017.

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Emily Payne

Emily Payne is director, content analytics for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.