In a world where health care costs are rising and consumers are taking on a growing share, it is critical they have easy access to understandable information about the quality and cost of their care. While we have made decent strides in making quality data available, consumers still have little to no information about health care prices, making it difficult if not impossible for them to seek higher-value care. Numerous studies and articles have explored this problem, such as a recent UCSF study, highlighted in JAMA, which found routine appendectomies can cost as little as $1,529 or as much as $183,000. As PBGH Medical Director Dr. Arnie Milstein so eloquently stated in the Wall Street Journal, “Fantasy baseball managers have more information evaluating players for their teams than patients and referring physicians have in matters of life and death.”
Now Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR), an independent, non-profit corporation working on behalf of large employers and other health care purchasers to catalyze improvements in how we pay for health services, has just released a suite of tools to catalyze price transparency. The suite includes a first-of-its-kind Statement by CPR Purchasers on Quality and Price Transparency in Health Care, endorsed by several partner organizations, that takes plans and providers to task: give us price data by January 2014.
I’m tired of profit-bashing and business-bashing in healthcare. And every American should be, too!
Well-run, profitable businesses, along with our sense of decency, democratic institutions, education and free enterprise systems, and adherence to the rule of law, have made the United States the most extraordinary nation in recorded history. Together they have unleashed the talents, creativity and productivity of our people, generated enormous sums of capital, and created unheard of social, economic, scientific and political advances.
Is there anything nobler than providing the environment and opportunity for people to fulfill their potential and achieve their dreams, and for providing the goods and services that enable people to raise their standard of living? Not even the practice of medicine can do so much good for so many people. But that’s precisely what businesses do. (That also may explain why far more Americans today are interested in job creation than restructuring healthcare.)
In our system, an individual has an idea, attracts capital, and hires people to build a product or provide a service. When they meet a need, they prosper – and attract more capital and hire more people. Everybody wins. If they fail, they alone suffer the consequences. That’s what capitalism is all about and that’s what has made America great.