If prices are kept hidden, consumers can’t take more responsibility for their health care costs

In a recent article published in STAT, McKesson Ventures associate Anahita Nakhjiri gave her take on why transparency is key in restructuring the health care payment system.

Using the automobile industry as an example, Nakhjiri explains that before purchasing a vehicle, consumers are able to compare cars based on price, safety, and performance. In this type of a transaction, both buyer and seller have equal access to information and bargaining power. But that’s not the case in the health care industry.

Often patients have no idea how much a procedure, treatment, or an appointment with a specialist will cost. And since they don’t readily have access to this information, they’re unable to compare prices with other health care institutions or providers.

As Nakhjiri points out, pricing can vary widely between facilities and insurers, and it often has nothing to do with the quality or type of service rendered. What usually happens is that the patient receives a bill in the mail a couple weeks later, only to be blindsided by expensive treatments and unforeseen out-of-network costs. A lack of transparency combined with a confusing billing system leaves patients feeling helpless when it comes to negotiating the cost of their health care.

But there is a silver lining: several digital health companies are already working on resolving the issue.

Companies like PokitDok, Recondo, and Parasail are restructuring the health care payment system to provide patients with cost estimates before they receive treatment. This puts power back into the hands of the consumer, so that the patient can regain control of both their health and their personal finances.

Read Nakhjiri’s full article here.