Must-Reads for the Health Care Consumer

This week’s Time Special Report, “Bitter Pill” by Steven Brill and this morning’s KHN/Capsules Blog Post “What’s The Price? Simple Question, Complicated Answer in Medicare” by Martha Bebinger have inspired me to post again.  There’s more to come, from me and others, because the lack of transparency in health care costs is hugely complicated and not likely to be resolved soon.

The only way to make health care costs transparent to the consumer and open to the forces of a competitive market is to compel carriers and providers to publish the costs of health care services, actual reimbursements and the balance for which the patient is responsible – BEFORE the procedure.

Read Martha Bebinger’s blog (click on link above) along with my comment.  Then read the “Bitter Pill” report to better understand the idiosyncratic “chargemaster” billing practices at most hospitals.  The lack of transparency and discipline in billing procedures at hospitals is downright scary for the patient – whether or not covered by Medicare or another private payer plan.

I give huge kudos to Massachusetts legislators who passed the new health care cost containment law in the state.  The law requires carriers and providers to post rates so the consumer will be able to make a reasoned decision about his or own health care responsibility.  The only way for the legislation to succeed is to make sure there are more sophisticated consumers, empowered with the knowledge and ability to challenge and evaluate costs, as well as shop for the best value-AHEAD of the procedure.

I plan on making the education easier to access for consumers like me.  Feel free to comment or call me.  In the meantime, Good luck!

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