It is no secret that healthcare costs are rising. It is definitely no secret that healthcare costs in America are the highest of the developed countries. Per capita, we spend more per person on healthcare than any other country in the world. As of January 1, 2019, it was mandated by the government that hospitals post their prices of routine medical procedures online.
This is fabulous! This is one small step in the direction of changing healthcare. For decades, healthcare has been the only industry in this country that you are expected to pay for a service quickly without knowing the price upfront. And even with that you can be billed for more after it is over! ( Warning: I have been known to get real animated about this subject. I promise I will stay off of the soapbox. Ok, fine I will try to stay off of it!)
Now let’s not get this twisted. The prices that are posted are not what you pay.
The prices are what the hospital charges. Then they negotiate with your insurance company. Then they write off a portion of it. Then you are stuck paying the rest per your insurance guidelines. Also note that if you do not have insurance, hospitals have a separate cash price list that is typically a lot lower. Always communicate with your hospital. There is often wiggle room depending upon the situation.
So back to the change at hand, posting prices is one small step in market regulation. There are SO MANY other pieces of the puzzle here. Healthcare is a multifaceted system. Price is not the only reason to consider. Your healthcare should not be treated like it is from the dollar store. Cheapest is not always best. However it is important that the healthcare industry become more transparent for the health of the patient and the health of the economy. An open market is what drives this economy and in part will help with the regulation of this price.
By all means, if you or a family member need life saving care get the care. We live in a time with the most medical advances this world has ever seen. However, if what you are needing a routine or non emergent procedure then some price shopping and conversations on the front end may save you and your family from financial difficulty. 1 in 5 adults in America have trouble paying their healthcare bills. Starting to have to have an open conversation about this may be a small step in the right direction.
The more you know…..
I urge you as a healthcare consumer to start having these conversations. It won’t be easy at first. The medical establishment is slow to change in how they communicate, but YOU can be a part of that change. Keep asking questions. Keep talking until you find a healthcare provider who listens and hears you. We all need healthcare advocates. We can all use healthcare consultants. Identify who can help you with that today.
Sources: https://www.natlbankruptcy.com/us-medical-debt-statistics/ www.cms.gov
Farley Schweighart is a Physical Therapist who helps riders and their horses heal from injury, improve performance, and return to winning.