Torinus has a very good suggestion.
He begins with legislation introduced by Sullivan (D) and Richards (D), which would require that 'doctor prices' be made public. We agree that it's a start.
The new law will require hospitals, clinics and doctors to make available median prices. What that will mean in the real world is that providers will list their charges - their retail prices - and then show an average discount across all procedures.
But Torinus prefers that the law require "bundling" prices be made public, too.
If prices were bundled, payers, including consumers, could track price increases a lot more effectively. The present system allows invisible and runaway prices.
And the huge variations in prices - as much as 300% in the Milwaukee area - would jump out at consumers. If a hospital price for a hip replacement is $18,000 at one highly rated facility, why would anyone buy at $40,000 at another hospital in the same region?
Because of the fog, payers often get that costly decision wrong. The opacity keeps the overpriced facilities in business.
OK. We know that.
Torinus managed to get that deal, "bundling prices" with his insurance broker, so all his employees know where the best price (AND QUALITY) is. Good work, John!
So: how to get "bundling" prices, not just 'doctor' prices, out in the open?
Wisconsin could make its prices for buying health care for its own employees and for Medicaid recipients public record. Because of its large claims base, state government could pull the line items together and publish bundled prices for state employees and Medicaid.The discounts for state employees would be different than for other plans, but not that much different. The Medicaid prices would provide a benchmark on the low end of the pricing spectrum.
A very good idea, indeed.