Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today introduced legislation to help Americans learn what they will have to pay for health care services before going to see a health provider. The proposal would require Medicare and health insurance companies to give beneficiaries information on the cost and quality of health services and products.
“In a grocery store, you can get a price check for a can of peas on Aisle 2. Health care is much more difficult, but it ought to be a lot easier for Americans to find out what they will have to pay before they get to a doctor,” Wyden said. “There’s more to do to lower health care costs, but transparency for consumers is an important first step. It’s time to pull back the curtain and get a price check on ‘Aisle Health Care.’”
The bill, the “Health Care Price Check Act of 2019,” comes as Americans grow increasingly concerned about the cost of health care, and are frustrated by how opaque the system is. Every consumer receives different health coverage, meaning similar services and procedures might have a significantly different costs.
Wyden’s bill requires Medicare and insurance companies to make available an online tool and a toll free number for beneficiaries to inquire about the cost, for that specific consumer, of any service, procedure, or product, including prescription drugs. The bill also requires insurers to offer information on provider quality, and to notify consumers if the provider is out-of-network. The bill marks one step towards price transparency in health care, with additional ideas to be incorporated as this important debate continues.