Lipinski Introduces Bill to Bring Transparency to Hospital Prices, Providing Incentive to Lower Patient Costs

As part of his ongoing commitment to reining in the cost of healthcare, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) today introduced H.R. 2853, the Hospital Price Transparency Act of 2013. The bipartisan bill would require hospitals to publicly disclose the prices they charge for their most common medical procedures, allowing consumers to make more informed choices, encouraging competition among providers, and ultimately leading to lower healthcare costs for the public.

“We already know the prices charged by hospitals for even the most basic services can vary dramatically from one hospital to the next. When patients don’t know the prices that hospitals charge they cannot make informed choices, and without price competition there is no incentive for hospitals to hold down the prices they charge,” Rep. Lipinski said. “You wouldn’t think of getting work done on your car or your home without first knowing the cost of the repairs. Why should your own personal healthcare be any different? This bill brings some much-needed transparency to the healthcare field and arms consumers with the information they need to make their own decisions regarding where they seek treatment.”

This spring, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publicly released data showing the “sticker” prices hospitals charge Medicare patients for common medical procedures, as well as the lower amounts they actually receive after negotiating with the Medicare program.

Rep. Lipinski’s legislation would take these disclosures a step further by requiring hospitals to release the average rates negotiated with top insurers for the 100 most common services provided to insured patients. The average prices charged to uninsured patients also would be disclosed. The information would be available via a consumer website maintained by HHS.

Through this legislation, consumers will be given a better picture of the discounted, negotiated rates hospitals are actually charging. With insurance companies requiring patients to pay more costs out-of-pocket, this information would become essential for planning and budgeting for healthcare expenses.

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) is the bill’s primary Republican cosponsor.

“The lack of price transparency in healthcare stifles competition in the marketplace, promotes waste and frustrates patients who increasingly are being asked to shoulder more responsibility for their medical costs,” Rep. Lipinski said. “The Hospital Price Transparency Act would bring some common sense to a process the public far too often finds mysterious and confusing.” 

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