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Bipartisan Senators Introduce “Healthcare Price Transparency Initiative” to Create Fixed List of Prices | newsLI

House Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin proposed a piece of legislation in May 2017 that attempted to address the price transparency problem, but it hasn’t made much progress.

The move could be the first step in helping solve the need for a legitimate, market listed price for goods and services in the sector. Federal regulators and insurance providers set health care prices in America instead of normal market forces like supply and demand.

Since billing rates are not set and publicly listed, the industry — hospital systems and insurance companies — is essentially able to prey on patients at their most vulnerable state.

Price gouging is so pervasive in the health care market because the cost to the patient is not set, it’s determined by how much can be extracted from each patient on a case by case basis. The gouging is targeted and there is little to no recourse for patients.

Take the cost of sending a simple blood test to a laboratory for analysis. The cost of that one blood test can range from $10 to $400 at the same lab. The differing rates for the same blood tests cause the system to waste an enormous amount of money. For instance, Medicare paid $910 million more than it would have if it had paid the rates of state Medicare plans and private insurers in 2011, according to a 2013 report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.

Typically, when a patient in the U.S. asks what the cost of a given procedure or treatment will be, they are met with one question: What insurance do you have? Doctors and hospital systems then calculate a price for their services based on negotiations with insurance providers.

The senator’s proposal could help consumers finally have the option to price shop for medical services, just like they would for any other good or service in the market.

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Bipartisan Senators Introduce “Healthcare Price Transparency Initiative” to Create Fixed List of Prices.