Aligning Around Price Transparency
From the President: Joseph J. Fifer, FHFMA, CPA
The industry is aligned; now, it’s time to take action.
The trend has been clear for a while now:People are paying more out of their own pockets for health care. A growing number of people with employer-sponsored coverage have high-deductible health plans. In addition, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and developments in the private market have pushed a new wave of consumers into the healthcare marketplace. Many of these enrollees have chosen high-deductible health plans with family deductibles that range up to $10,000 or more. So more than ever, consumers want to know how much they’ll be expected to pay out-of-pocket for health care. And many are frustrated because reliable price information is hard to come by.
It’s time for the industry to acknowledge that consumers’ requests for price information are not unreasonable and to turn our energies toward fulfilling those requests. Frankly, we’ve all put this off for far too long. We strive to put patients first in terms of the quality of care and the overall patient experience we deliver. It’s time to step up and put patients first when it comes to their healthcare financial experience as well.
We knew a transparency solution would need to involve all healthcare stakeholders, not just finance leaders. So we convened a multiorganizational task force, bringing many groups together to figure out the best way to make healthcare prices more transparent. After months of work, the task force is set to release its report on April 16. And it’s a game changer.
For starters, all parties now agree on definitions for terms that are commonly used—and misused—such as price, charge, and cost. The stakeholders went on to reach consensus on guiding principles for price transparency. And those guiding principles are centered around patients. The core idea is that all Americans—regardless of their insurance status—should be able to receive price information from a reliable source.
The task force also developed recommendations for translating the guiding principles into action. These recommendations set forth the roles that all healthcare stakeholders should play in creating a more transparent system.
All major stakeholders are aligned around the primary goal of transparency—to enable people to be better healthcare consumers. Now it’s time for action. HFMA started “beating the drum” on price transparency with our Patient Friendly Billing® project years ago. Now it’s time to implement. If we don’t, we run the risk of losing the trust of the communities we serve.
From the President's Desk
Joe Fifer expands on his ideas in his April column.
Publication Date: Tuesday, April 01, 2014