President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he wants to take action to protect Americans against surprise health care bill.
Trump talked about balance billing — or cases in which patients get much higher bills than expected, often because they have inadvertently received care from out-of-network providers, or from providers in the wrong network coverage tier — in the White House, at a round table discussion on transparency in health care pricing.
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The federal government started requiring hospitals to post the list prices of their services online Jan. 1.
Trump said his administration has already stopped a lot of the pricing surprise problems through the price transparency measure. ”
“ We’re going to stop all of it,” Trump said. “It is very important to me.”
Trump cited a reporting showing that 40% of insured adults have reported receiving a surprise medical bill in the past year.
“Patients should know they real price,” Trump said. “They go in, they have a procedure, and then all of a sudden they can’t afford it. They had no idea it was so bad.”
Alex Azar II, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said the cure for the problem is tougher price disclosure rules.
“Like all of the Trump administration, HHS knows the right way to bring down costs while improving quality in any area is to empower consumers and to employ market forces,” Azar said. “This can’t be accomplished without transparent pricing information. It’s got to be meaningful price signals. But, in health care, prices are often hidden, far out of line with what many patients will owe, or both.”
Azar recalled one occasion, several years ago, when he was using a health savings account of his own to pay for his own routine diagnostic test.
At that time, he already had a stint as an HHS deputy secretary on his resume.