New regulations introduced by the Trump administration on Friday require hospitals and insurers to reveal the actual prices for common tests and procedures in advance, as well as promote competition to reduce costs.
The major changes are facing extreme pushback rom the health care industry and may even face a federal court challenge.
Critics say even if prices were transparent, patients would still deal with a learning curve to become familiar with the details of health care billing.
Still, the changes are part of the president’s pledge to help lower healthcare costs.
“This shadowy system has to change,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. “The patient has to be in control.”
The final rule applies to hospitals while another proposed change would apply to insurance plans.
Full disclosure rules would to apply to hospitals until 2021, but the time for insurers is not yet clear. The requires don’t apply to doctors directly.
Trump administration officials say the regulations will highlight a confusing set of health care prices, giving patients more information to find similar quality services at lower prices.
Costs for an MRI scan, for instance, can differ by hundreds of collars depending on who is performing it.
The rules would require insurers to create individual estimates of what patients would be required to pay out-of-pocket because of co-payments and deductibles.
Insurance companies and hospitals claim that the transparency rules are too extreme and impractical. They also say that transparency will actually cause prices to rise as they bid up prices on bargain deals.
Azar said that made no sense because transparency does not lead to higher prices in any other facet of the economy.