By Alisa Zhou
From simple routine checkups to complex surgeries, it is all too common to receive a hefty bill in your mailbox. The complicated medical expense system has increasingly lead to patients paying unjustly inflated medical bills. With an obscure medical cost structure and additional layers of opaque health insurance, customer service, and facility fees, patients are often oblivious to the additional costs they are paying. Often, these bills are passed directly to the patient from healthcare institutions without the knowledge of the physician.
Hospitals and healthcare companies currently stand as beneficiaries of non-transparent bills because they are able to charge patients a higher price for the service provided, all to the detriment of the patient. An expensive medical bill can create a tremendous financial burden on the person needing medical attention. Resultantly, this issue can cause many families to steer away from professional medical care and instead turn to cheaper, inferior, and perhaps even unreliable care.
Transparency is crucial for patients, because they have a right to know the details of what they are paying for. It is vital that clients are not overpaying medical fees, and have access to affordable, quality healthcare institutions and professionals. Fortunately, the Trump Administration is already taking proactive steps to make all medical costs transparent to patients. The administration wants healthcare professionals to publicly reveal all medical costs, including the negotiated prices with health insurance companies. This is especially crucial as healthcare professionals and institutions, like health insurance companies, often collude to charge inflated medical fees.
Enforcing public disclosure of medical costs can bring to light the complex relationship between the healthcare industry and its financial system. More importantly, uncovering the truth behind the negotiated prices between physicians and insurance companies will allow patients to understand the costs they are currently paying for and to add a moral incentive to healthcare institutions and professionals to avoid charging inflated healthcare prices.