"Currently, consumers don't know what a hospital is charging them or their insurance company for a given procedure, like a knee replacement, or how much of a price difference there is at different hospitals, even within the same city," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "This data and new data centers will help fill that gap."USA Today
Do consumers really care or want to know?
If they have insurance what they really want to know is how much their plan will pay and how much is left over as their share.
If they have Medicare or Medicaid, it really doesn't matter since the government will pay what they want to pay and if the hospital doesn't like it that is too bad.
Patients who don't have health insurance won't pay the bill any way, so why should they care? On average, hospitals collect 8 - 12% of the billed amount from uninsured patients and shift the uncollected amount to their paying patients.
Transparency won't change this. Deadbeats will still stiff the hospital.
"Hospitals that charge two or three times the going rate will rightfully face higher scrutiny," said Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. He added that he sees "no logical business reason" for that variation, and that higher prices do not necessarily correspond to better quality of care.Hospital billed charges means nothing. Likewise for sticker prices on cars, or airline ticket prices.
No one pays full retail.
Because insurers often pick up the bill directly, consumers have not had to shop for better prices. However, as more employers have moved to low-premium, high-deductible plans, which leave consumers paying more out-of-pocket costs, they must pay attention to how much a procedure costs.But consumers with high deductible plans don't pay billed charges, unless they use a non-par provider.
Do patients looking for a brain transplant really want the lowest price or do they want a better brain?