“While a sound move forward, transparency, as currently contemplated, is a long way from solving the issue. We have started to crawl in what will be a marathon.” — Why Healthcare Price 'Transparency' Is A Myth, And What Consumers Can Do About It, Forbes
Healthcare pricing transparency has always been a challenge for patients, who often receive treatments without a clear picture of what those treatments will cost. Recent initiatives by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are aimed at increasing transparency. The end goal is to create a market where patients can compare pricing at different healthcare providers, and make an informed decision about where they receive care.
Experts argue transparency will drive higher-quality, lower-cost care for patients. But, is it enough to make a significant impact on healthcare?
Transparency alone won’t work
Writing for Forbes, healthcare consultant Jeff Gorke demonstrates why transparency isn’t a silver bullet for out-of-control healthcare costs. He found that there’s a big difference between what a hospital charges and what a patient ultimately pays.
Negotiations between hospitals, providers, and insurance companies complicate the pathway between a treatment’s listed price and what shows up on a patient’s bill. Unless a patient understands how their specific treatment and provider interact with their insurance company, there’s no way to know what their final bill could look like. “In other words, what you are charged and what you pay often have little bearing on one another,” writes Gorke.
Transparency is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough if patients don’t have all the answers to make informed decisions about their care. An on- or near-site clinic solves these issues by providing all of a patient’s primary care for free. And, when their needs extend beyond the walls of a clinic, highly coordinated care by dedicated care teams ensures that they receive high-quality, low-cost care. With an on-site clinic, employers and patients get the benefit of fixed healthcare costs that are truly transparent.
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