Should Pricing for Medical Services be Regulated to be Transparent?

Congressman Paul Ryan agrees that not knowing the price for procedures reduces consumers' ability to comparison shop and make educated decisions.

Congressman Paul Ryan made his last two stops for his 19-city tour of the First District today in Sturtevant and Racine.

In Sturtevant, a woman stood up and thanked Ryan for his service and then asked him if his plan would provide consumers a way to comparison shop. This resident explained that as an employee in the healthcare system, she sees the inequities of pricing structure, but as a consumer who comparison shops for other goods and services her family needs, she's frustrated by not being able to do the same for healthcare.

Ryan agreed that the pricing structures are flawed, and explained why they're flawed.

And while the Path to Prosperity doesn't address this issue, he said he is helping author new legislation tackling the need for healthcare transparency that he will introduce that bill down the road a bit.

Watch the video and tell me what you think. Does healthcare pricing need to be as transparent as reading a menu at a restaurant? Should government regulate to get transparency? How will such transparency help us control the way healthcare costs rise?

Heather Rayne Geyer May 01, 2011 at 10:14 PM
With many insurances you can't even chose one place over another anyway. Its all so confusing. A "menu" would make things much easier. I dont know that it is so much apathy that did us in, but also I think we have been conditioned to feel as though we do not have a choice in anything.
Heather Rayne Geyer May 01, 2011 at 10:14 PM
I do think this would be an easier plan to administer if there were universial healthcare. :)
Heather Asiyanbi May 01, 2011 at 10:17 PM
I don't think insurance companies should be able to limit you to where you go. I know that's pie-in-the-sky thinking, but you pay for their services, right? Why should they tell you that Dr. A is okay, but Dr. B is not, especially if you already have a relationship with Dr. B and then ... what if Dr. B is also less expensive?! Insurance is the only service in America we pay for and then hope to God we never need for anything more than routine stuff like annual physicals. Don't even get me started on car insurance.
Heather Asiyanbi May 01, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Insurance is meant to spread the "pain" over a larger pool of people, right? So ... if that's the case ... paying into a universal system would be better as long as you retain the ability to choose your provider(s) AND patients are required to pay a percentage of their bills above annual physicals. I think that's key ... preventative medicine like annual physicals, mammograms, well baby, etc., should be covered 100% (with the aforementioned blood work), but anything else should be shared cost at a 90/10 split, for example. That forces people to be more informed consumers, perhaps could even spur folks into taking better care of themselves? I dunno ... it's complicated, I know. But does it need to be?
mona lori May 02, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Consumers need to know what health care services will cost them out-of-pocket --- before they visit a provider. If consumers have access to tools that provide meaningful prices, consumers will be empowered to shop around for the best value and make their health care dollars go further. Several initiatives and websites focus on providing consumers with tools to look up prices, but the health care industry still has a long way to go to bring meaningful price data to consumers. Be sure the check out www.outofpocket.com, a free search tool that allows consumers to search for health care prices. Regards, Mona Lori Founder Outofpocket.com


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