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President Trump makes game changing move on health care costs, transparency

President Trump at a campaign rally. Late last week, President Trump took what the administration is calling the “most aggressive actions taken by any administration to put healthcare price information in the hands of patients.”

Washington D.C. – Have you ever gone to the hospital or scheduled a medical procedure without having any idea what the price will be? You’re not alone, but a recent action by President Donald Trump is going to change that.

“We believe the American people have a right to know the price of services before they go to visit the doctor,” said President Trump in announcing his executive order to promote honesty and transparency in health care pricing.

The first order instructs the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services to finalize a rule requiring hospitals to make prices available online “as a total package in an easy-to-read, consumer-friendly format.”  

The second part of the order requires insurance companies and group health care plans to provide cost estimates to their enrollees in advance of care. It also requires those health insurance companies to make pricing available to the public.

Taken together, the Trump administration says the order represents the “most aggressive actions taken by any administration to put healthcare price information in the hands of patients.”

Transparency in health care is a goal that has been long sought by some advocates for health care consumers. They argue that when the pricing becomes visible to the public, some providers will have to reduce their prices to be competitive with lower cost providers of the same quality in their region. They also argue that consumers will be able to choose to seek higher quality care at comparable prices.

President Trump’s Executive Order lays out a few points in making the case for his action:

-For years, powerful interests have blocked patients from knowing the true price and quality of healthcare, denying them the information they need to make informed choices.

-This lack of transparency has enriched industry giants at the expense of regular Americans.

-Prices for the exact same healthcare services can vary significantly in the same area with little to no correlation to quality.

-Armed with accurate information, patients can shop around for healthcare services and make the decision that is best for them.

-By increasing price transparency and empowering patients we can help lower the cost of healthcare and drive competition.

-Employers from around the country have already utilized priced transparency tools to reduce costs for their employees.

Critics counter that price transparency could lead to the opposite effect Trump intends, with lower cost providers raising their rates when they discover they are the lowest in their region. That argument would appear to run counter to the fundamentals of almost every American consumer market, but for decades health care has not functioned as a consumer market.

The President’s order continues a string of actions he has taken to make a meaningful impact on health care through executive order.

President Trump has:

-Signed an order to “protect and improve Medicare for America’s seniors.”

-Taken aggressive action to drive down prescription drug prices and increase the availability of lower cost generics. Those actions, the Trump Admin says, have led to the greatest decrease in prescription drug costs in half a century.

-Expanded Health Reimbursement Arrangements and Association Health Plans

-Working to improve health care for patients with HIV/AIDS, kidney disease, pediatric cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more.

– President Trump signed ‘right to try’ legislation to allow terminally ill patients who have exhausted all other treatments to try drugs still in the developmental stages but that have received Phase 1 FDA approval.

President Trump’s announcement of the executive order on health care pricing and transparency was made late last week. You can read the entire briefing from the White House by clicking here.

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