As part of a push for more price transparency in the health care sector, the Trump administration is interested in forcing insurers to disclose the negotiated rates they pay for services, The Wall Street Journal’s Stephanie Armour reported Wednesday. The White House also wants doctors and hospitals to tell patients the total price for their care before the services are rendered, whether or not the health-care providers are in the patient’s insurance network.
Would it work? "Supporters say that requiring price and rate disclosure could fundamentally alter economic forces in the industry, potentially driving down costs if hospitals and doctors lower prices to match competitors," Armour writes. "But critics say it wasn’t clear whether enough consumers would use price information to seek out lower-cost treatment and bend the cost curve. And the proposals would likely be met with stiff industry opposition, including lawsuits challenging the White House’s authority to mandate cost disclosures."
The bottom line: It’s not at all clear that greater transparency will lead to lower prices, given cases where providers have monopoly power, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt told Axios. It could even result in some prices rising, he said: "With greater transparency, there's the distinct possibility that low-priced hospitals will demand higher rates once they find out what their competitors are getting paid."