a challenge to encourage health care organizations, designers, developers, digital tech companies and other innovators to design a medical bill that’s simpler, cleaner, and easier for patients to understand, and to improve patients’ experience of the overall medical billing process.
This is a laudable if perhaps slightly misdirected effort.
Why are we looking to create an extra layer of service to explain a very poor function, which will inevitably increase system costs? Because this is healthcare’s typical way of adding more layers and costs to an already bloated system, instead of fixing the underlying problem.
When you buy a car do you receive separate bills for the labor, motor, body, tires, glass, oil and gas, carpet, electronics, air conditioning? I know, there are a few lines – base price, options, transportation fees, dealer fees – but it’s just a few and there are not multiple bills coming from all the components.
Furthermore, this simplification greatly reduces the number of people and systems that a dealer and its suppliers need to staff for the billing and collection process.
What healthcare needs is to simplify and combine the entire billing process and function. We need to bundle pricing that is all-inclusive in advance, just like everything else we buy.
It’s really not that hard. For an example we can look no further than a nearby offshore facility, Health City Cayman Islands. I wrote about this hospital before, but the gist is they offer surgery services for a number of specialties with a price that’s all-inclusive:
There are no surprises, it’s all in and you know before you go how much it is. Here’s an example of a bill for a major joint replacement. One Page, One Line, One Price. Now what could be more simple than that?
We applaud HHS for trying to help all of us who have to deal with billing in the current health care system. But the simple solution is more effective, efficient, and transparent published pricing that creates competition and lowers costs.
Brian Klepper is a consultant based in Florida. Fred Goldstein is the CEO of Accountable Health!