Doctors and hospitals should give patients both their “retail” prices and the prices actually paid by health insurers.
Witnesses delivered that message Wednesday at a hearing on health price transparency organized by the health subcommittee at the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington, and other witnesses warned that simply publishing detailed rate bases, or even databases of the discounted rates actually paid by insured patients, probably will not be enough to encourage meaningful price-based competition.
In the laser eye surgery market, for example, competition appears to have reduced advertised rates to $300 per eye, but, in the real world, only 3% of the patients pay less than $1,000 per procedure, Ginsburg said, according to a written version of his remarks.
In other markets dominated by patients who pay for their own care, “we found little evidence of consumer price shopping,” Ginsburg said.
Consumers sometimes choose lower-priced plastic surgeons over more expensive surgeons, but they seem to be more interested in quality than cost, Ginsburg said.