AP

Trump Signs Order That Aims To Reveal Real Health Care Costs

Jun 24, 2019, 3:43 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:04 pm
U.S. President Donald Trump, gestures as he speaks during a news conference with Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, not pictured, at Akasaka Palace on May 27, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota - Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota - Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday that calls for upfront disclosure by hospitals of actual prices for common tests and procedures to help keep costs down .

The idea is to give patients practical information that they can use to save money. For example, if a hospital charges your insurer $3,500 for a type of echocardiogram and the same test costs $550 in a doctor’s office, you might go for the lower-price procedure to save on copays.

But insurers said the idea could backfire, prompting hospitals that now give deeper discounts to try to raise their own negotiated prices to match what high earners are getting. Hospitals were skeptical of the move.

Trump’s order also requires that patients be told ahead of time what their out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copays will be for many procedures.

Little will change right away. The executive order calls for a rule-making process by federal agencies, which typically takes months or even years. The details of what information will have to be disclosed and how it will be made available to patients must be worked out as part of writing the regulations. That will involve a complex give-and-take with hospitals, insurers and others affected.

Consumers will have to wait to see whether the results live up to the administration’s promises.

“For too long it’s been virtually impossible for Americans to know the real price and quality of health care services and the services they receive,” Trump said at the White House. “As a result, patients face significant obstacles shopping for the best care at the best price, driving up health care costs for everyone.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters earlier that the order “will put patients in control by increasing choice and competition.”

Lack of information on health care prices is a widespread problem . It’s confusing for patients, and experts say it’s also one of the major factors that push up U.S. costs. The same test or procedure, in the same city, can cost widely different amounts depending on who is performing it and who is paying the bill. Hospital list prices, which are available, don’t reflect what they are paid by insurers and government programs.

The health insurance industry said disclosing negotiated prices will only encourage hospitals that are now providing deeper discounts to try to raise their rates to match the top-tier facilities. “Publicly disclosing competitively negotiated proprietary rates will reduce competition and push prices higher — not lower — for consumers, patients, and taxpayers,” Matt Eyles, head of the industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement.

The Federation of American Hospitals, representing for-profit facilities, warned that if the Trump administration regulations take the “wrong course,” they may “undercut the way insurers pay for hospital services, resulting in higher spending.”

While the prices Medicare pays are publicly available, private insurers’ negotiated rates generally are not. Industry officials say such contractual information is tantamount to trade secrets and should remain private.

Azar pushed back against that argument, saying insurers do ultimately disclose their payment rates when they send individual patients an “explanation of benefits.” That’s the technical term for the form that patients get after they’ve had a procedure or seen the doctor.

“Every time any one of us goes to a doctor or a hospital, within a couple of weeks in our mailbox arrives an explanation of benefits. (It) contains the list price … the negotiated rate … and what your out-of-pocket is,” Azar said. “This is not some great state secret out there.”

Patients should have that information ahead of time to help them make decisions, he added.

Trump’s executive order also calls for:

—expanded uses for health savings accounts, a tax-advantaged way to pay health care bills that has long been favored by Republicans. Coupled with a lower-premium, high-deductible insurance plan, the accounts can be used to pay out-of-pocket costs for routine medical exams and procedures.

—a plan to improve the government’s various health care quality rating systems for hospitals, nursing homes and Medicare Advantage plans.

— more access by researchers to health care information, such as claims for services covered by government programs like Medicare. The data would be stripped of details that could identify individual patients.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a reception to celebrate the Jewish New Year with ...
MATTHEW LEE, FATIMA HUSSEIN and AAMER MADHANI, Associated Press

Biden vows Russia won’t ‘get away with’ Ukraine annexation

The United States and its allies are hitting back at Russia’s annexation of four more Ukrainian regions, slapping sanctions on more than 1,000 Russian individuals and companies.
2 days ago
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and Chief Justice John Roberts pause for...
MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

Justice Jackson makes Supreme Court debut in brief ceremony

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has made her first appearance on the Supreme Court bench in a brief courtroom ceremony three days before the start of the high court’s new term.
2 days ago
Rain from Hurricane Ian floods a street on September 30, 2022 in Charleston, South Carolina. Ian hi...
Meg Kinnard and Adriana Gomez Licon, Associated Press

Ian makes landfall again, this time in South Carolina

Hurricane Ian has made another landfall, this time in South Carolina, after carving a swath of destruction across Florida earlier this week.
2 days ago
President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during the 77th session of the United Nations General Ass...
Fatima Hussein, Associated Press

US hits Russia with sanctions for annexing Ukrainian regions

The U.S. has sanctioned more than 1,000 people and firms connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including its Central Bank governor and families of Security Council members.
2 days ago
In an aerial view, damaged buildings are seen as Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September...
Meg Kinndard and Adriana Gomez Licon, Associated Press

Hurricane Ian heads for Carolinas after pounding Florida

A revived Hurricane Ian is bearing down on South Carolina’s coast and the historic city of Charleston, with forecasters predicting a storm surge and floods.
2 days ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen here signing the annexation documents in Moscow on Sept. 3...
Jon Gambrell and Hanna Arhirova, Associated Press

Putin declares Ukrainian regions part of Russia, defies West

Russian President Vladimir Putin has opened a Kremlin ceremony to start the process of absorbing parts of Ukraine in defiance of international law.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
Trump Signs Order That Aims To Reveal Real Health Care Costs