The path toward price transparency in health care has been a ponderous one. A parade of weak-willed legislators, tepid laws, and foot-dragging efforts at compliance on the part of states and health care providers. The result? A bunch of websites and online cost-comparison tools that no one is using.
If there’s a Ground Zero in the fight to provide patients with a price for their medical treatment, it is Florida. By many accounts, Florida has the strongest, pro-consumer transparency laws in the nation. But without much to show for it as yet. Why? Because too many health care players benefit from delaying their compliance with the laws.
The latest skirmish in the battle, as the Orlando Sentinel reports, is the Florida Hospital Association’s “administrative challenge” to proposed rules requiring hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to provide information to patients about potential treatment costs.
If I understand the association’s challenge correctly, the proposed rules go too far and will cost too much. Instead of providing patients with a cost estimate for their procedure in person, the association would rather give them an Internet link, where they can try to look it up themselves. Studies show, however, that few patients use such online sites.
Perhaps a judge will dismiss the case. Regardless, we’re wasting time waiting for hospitals to execute the laws of their states.