Senate Republicans continue push for low, transparent pricing in health care | MNSRC

Two of the proposals require health care providers and health insurance plans to provide clear cost estimates to consumers. S.F. 3480 allows consumers to request a good faith estimate for expected services, which health care providers and health insurance plans are required to provide within ten days. S.F. 3033 requires health care providers to publicly post pricing for their most commonly billed evaluation, management, and preventative services. The price list must include the provider’s cash pay rate, the insurance reimbursement rate, the Medicare rate, and the Medical Assistance rate for each item.

“Free market principles drive down costs. Yet, in health care, we restrict the ability of providers and patients to participate in a free market,” said Senator Scott Jensen (R-Chaska). “If we lift the veil on health care pricing and allow patients to not only ‘shop around,’ but have free and open conversations with their pharmacists and physicians, the cost curve will be bent downward.”

“In this age of internet commerce, we are accustomed to quickly comparing prices for nearly any product or service we wish,” said Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake). “I see no reason why health care should be any different. Just like you would receive an estimate from an auto mechanic, patients should know how much a medical procedure will cost them prior to committing to it.”

Another Republican proposal puts an end to hidden “facility fees” that patients are often unaware of when they receive services. For example, two competing clinics may charge similar rates for a procedure, but if one also charges a facility fee, then the out-of-pocket cost of the procedure may be significantly higher at that clinic. S.F. 2746 guarantees patients understand what they’re being charged by requiring disclosure of facility fees up-front.

The last bill lowers the out-of-pocket cost of prescription drugs for consumers by lifting the pharmacy gag rule. The gag rule is a common clause in pharmacy contracts that prevent pharmacists from telling consumers when a drug could be purchased cheaper with cash instead of billing through insurance. Under S.F. 2836, consumers will save money by allowing pharmacists to provide the best possible price for a prescription.

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Senate Republicans continue push for low, transparent pricing in health care.