In recent years, the health care industry has undergone significant changes, with a growing focus on transparency and patient empowerment. One area where this shift has gained momentum is in hospitals’ commitment to price transparency. By providing patients with clear and accessible information about health care costs, hospitals are empowering patients to make more informed decisions about their care.
However, the latest legislative push by the Texas Legislature to address price transparency – which has now reached the governor’s desk – is a misstep in that effort.
Good health care decision-making should be a responsibility shared among Texas hospitals, physicians, insurers, employers and consumers alike. As with many issues in health care, price transparency is complex and requires engagement of all stakeholders along the continuum of care to ensure meaningful transparency for patients.
Texas hospitals believe consumers should be engaged in their own health care decisions, with easily accessible information necessary to make prudent choices about their health care. To drive greater transparency in the market, hospitals support price transparency for all provider types. Today, only hospitals and health plans have requirements to post their prices.
According to Turquoise Health, 75% of Texas hospitals are compliant or mostly compliant with the federal requirements for posting procedure prices – a higher percentage than many other states. Texas hospitals also comply with a state transparency law, overseen by the Health and Human Services Commission.
The Facts: Texas Hospitals Work to Stabilize Amid Harmful Mistruths
As hospitals increasingly support price transparency, patients are gaining greater control over their health care decisions. By offering clear and accessible pricing information, hospitals are promoting competition, facilitating cost savings and fostering trust in the health care system.
Just one piece of legislation related to hospital price transparency has gained traction during the 2023 session of the Texas Legislature, but that THA-opposed bill is, unfortunately, a wrongheaded approach to the issue. Senate Bill 490 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), which has passed both the House and Senate, would require hospitals and other facilities to present itemized bills to patients within 30 days of receiving payment from a third party. As the law stands now, hospitals are required to notify patients of their right to request itemized statements, and upon request are required to provide patients with up to two copies at no cost. The bill passed both chambers – and now awaits consideration by the governor – despite testimony from THA warning lawmakers that its requirements would foster confusion among patients and be costly and onerous for hospitals of all sizes.
Nonetheless, challenges related to complex pricing structures and standardization must be addressed to ensure that price transparency truly benefits patients. With a collective effort from hospitals, insurers, policymakers and patient advocates, the path to a more transparent and patient-centered health care system becomes clearer, resulting in improved patient experiences and outcomes.