“Hiding Cost of Healthcare an ‘Insult to Americans”

 “When the patient gets the bill, it looks like the insurer haggled on their behalf. Yet the final charge is still much higher than it should have been. The patient loses, while the insurer and provider win.” – Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley: Hiding Cost of Healthcare an ‘Insult to Americans’

By Marisa Herman    |   Monday, 21 September 2020 12:12 PM

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is calling for full transparency when it comes to the cost of healthcare.

In an opinion piece published in Politico, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations blasted the “current system of hiding health care prices” calling it an “insult to Americans.”

She highlighted the unaffordable hospital bills that some coronavirus patients have received. She noted one survivor from her home state of South Carolina received a bill for $63,500.

“She never knew her care would cost that much,” Haley said of the patient, who spent eight days in a hospital.

“Her story is far from unique,” Haley wrote. “Countless Americans have faced a similar crisis.”

She called upon the White House, Congress, and state lawmakers to “right this wrong” in order to benefit Americans, even after the coronavirus pandemic ends. She urged lawmakers to support the Health Care PRICE Transparency Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., as part of the coronavirus relief package currently being negotiated.

She called on state lawmakers to pass legislation that mandates “real price disclosure.”

“This injustice is a feature of American health care,” she said of the unknown costs of healthcare. “It’s also a defining fault. Virtually nowhere else in modern life are people blocked from learning what they’re going to pay for something.”

She said if people know the cost of care it will “help make health care far more affordable.”

When medical providers have the ability to shield the cost of care, she said they have the “ability to charge more than necessary” because they know “people have no choice but to cough up the cash.”

She said the insurance companies make the situation “even more unjust.”

“They effectively incentivize providers to set even higher prices, then negotiate a supposed discount,” she said of insurance providers. “When the patient gets the bill, it looks like the insurer haggled on their behalf. Yet the final charge is still much higher than it should have been. The patient loses, while the insurer and provider win.”

Haley called for providers and insurers to “disclose their prices up front” in order to give patients more control and make better decisions.

“Just as important, it would give health care companies a reason to lower prices, instead of always raising them,” she wrote.

She argues that “price transparency” will allow anyone to “compare the cost of treatments at different doctor’s offices, hospitals and other medical providers” as they can compare other things such as where to buy groceries.

“Common sense says transparency works, she writes, adding “when people see prices, they can also demand better.”

She noted a study published last year in Health Management, Policy, and Innovation, where economists Larry Van Horn and Art Laffer found that when “providers and insurers can’t play their usual price-hike games, health care costs a staggering 39% less.”

She praised President Donald Trump’s executive order last year that demanded price transparency in healthcare. She wrote legislation to back it “would be better.”

“All Americans deserve to know the cost of their health care before they decide where to get it,” she concludes. “Every provider needs to be held responsible for their pricing decisions just like every other business in America. It’s unacceptable that our health care system has been so broken for so long — it’s about time we started fixing it.”

 

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