Trump orders Hospital Pricing Transparency

By Shannon Firth, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today November 15, 2019

WASHINGTON -- For decades, hospitals, insurers, and other special interests have intentionally hidden their prices in order to drive up costs, argued President Trump in announcing the release of two new regulations aimed at increasing price transparency, on Friday.

"We're stopping American patients from getting ripped off, because they've been ripped off for years," said Trump during a press conference Friday afternoon.

The new rules would also help reduce overall costs to the healthcare system, he said.  In June, President Trump signed an executive order pledging to make healthcare prices more transparent.

The core purpose of the two regulations, developed in response to the president's executive order, is to give patients the information they need to make more informed healthcare decisions, Trump said.

"They'll be able to check 'em, compare 'em, go to different locations. So, they can shop for the highest quality care at the lowest cost," he said.

The first rule would require hospitals to publish their prices publicly online -- "everything from individual medical supplies to the total cost of common procedures," Trump said. He cited research suggesting that hospitals have charged patients anywhere from $248 to $2,500 for the same MRI at the same hospital.

And the second rule, still in draft form, would require health insurers to reveal their pricing information. "This will allow you to see your out-of-pocket costs and other vital price information before you go in for treatment," he said. The president said the changes would give American families more freedom over their healthcare decisions and would also force companies to compete for patients' business.

The rules were developed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor, and the Department of the Treasury. The hospital price transparency rule, which is final, is not slated to take effect until Jan. 1, 2021. HHS officials said they delayed the start of the rule to give hospitals more time to prepare for its implementation.

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