Price transparency creates competition, CMS chief says

Amid rising healthcare costs, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the industry must address price transparency.

"Simply put, hidden pricing means healthcare providers don't have to compete on cost. Transparency creates competition, and competition keeps prices down, because patients can shop," Ms. Verma said at the Federation of American Hospitals 2019 Public Policy Conference this month.

CMS now requires hospitals to post their standard charges online in a machine-readable format that can be easily imported into a computer system. Hospitals must update the information at least annually.

"Now, we recognize that this information doesn't usually reflect the negotiated price that a person may pay. Also, price is only part of the equation — just as important is empowering patients to understand healthcare quality," said Ms. Verma.

But she encouraged hospitals to exceed the basic requirements, which some facilities have done.

Overall, her hope is that hospitals will view price transparency "as marketing opportunities, not a competitive disadvantage," Ms. Verma said.


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