A group of U.S. senators has sent a letter to dozens of healthcare industry groups asking for more information on what price and quality information is available to consumers and what regulations may be getting in the way of greater price transparency.
“When asked more specifically about their concerns with health care, nearly two-thirds of Americans say it is too difficult to find out what medical care costs,” the six senators wrote. “In virtually every other industry, consumers are able to price shop, compare quality, and then decide what product best fits their needs. In health care, the lack of information and the inability to access it hurts patients and prevents normal market forces from driving competition, lowering prices, and improving quality.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD, R-Louisiana, is leading the initiative, along with Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado; Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri; and Todd Young, R-Indiana.
Cassidy has previously expressed interest in pursuing price transparency legislation this year, but state-level efforts have run into two major issues—patients aren’t making use of the tools which are available and hospitals, physicians and other stakeholders have fought efforts to make the costs of the services they provide publicly available. This is despite industry recognition that encouraging consumerism in healthcare should be a priority as the prevalence of high-deductible health plans shifts more costs onto patients.
To speed up those efforts, the senators asked groups like the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association to answer these questions:
- What information is currently available to consumers on prices, out-of-pocket costs, and quality?
The senators asked for groups to respond by March 23.