We should all applaud the spirit of the hospital price transparency (HPT) requirements that went into effect in January. We should all also recognize that HPT, at least in its current form, will not drive significant transformation. In fact, it won’t even come close.

The new rules, according to a post published in March, require hospitals to share with the public “a machine-readable file containing a list of all standard charges for all items and services.” The goal was part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)’s drive to empower patients through better health care information. In this case, the information reveals prices for services and fees that hospitals have negotiated with payers.

Legislators assumed consumers would then use the data to seek out the best deals in town, not unlike the way we comparison shop between big box stores, car dealerships or mobile phone networks. The market will determine what the consumer will spend on their health care, thereby reining in prices.

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