On June 24, President Trump signed an executive order, intended to return health care decision-making back to patients. It requires hospitals to publicly disclose how much patients will actually pay for services that they receive. It also gives patients the ability to use funds in tax preferred accounts such as HSAs (health savings accounts) to shop for health care. Both puts power in the hands of patients by providing information and opportunities previously unavailable to them.
Health care is the only industry where consumers have no idea how much they will pay for services until after they have received them. Powerful special interests, like insurance companies, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, prefer to keep things as complicated as possible, shielding patients from the true price for medical services. At the executive order signing ceremony, a young woman shared the story about the stage 3 cancer that she successfully battled, but that caused her family tremendous financial hardship. Much of this problem was caused by the inability to shop for medical services. She had difficulty understanding why two bone scans done three weeks apart at two different facilities in the same city should differ in price by 30 percent.
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