Trump signs executive order to make healthcare costs more transparent

President Donald Trump issued an executive order earlier today directing his administration to take steps to improve healthcare cost and quality transparency, according to a briefing statement.

Under the new order, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will require healthcare providers to publicly disclose prices for services in an easy-to-read format. The HHS will begin the process of making information on out-of-pocket spending more readily available to patients before they receive care.

The administration will also improve quality measurements for doctors and make them public. Quality measures are used to measure or quantify healthcare processes, outcomes, patient perceptions, and organizational structures or systems that are associated with the ability to provide high-quality healthcare, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The President’s order also incentivizes consumers to shop for care by expanding the benefit of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and other tax-preferred health accounts.

The administration says lack of transparency contributes to soaring costs, suppressed competition, and lower quality of care. Providing accurate information on cost and quality of care will allow Americans to make choices that fit their personal healthcare needs and financial situations, the administration says.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose drug prices in T.V. ads in an effort to control drug costs. However, experts deemed the effort ineffective, noting modified language did not dissuade patients who needed to purchase a drug.  

While advocates say the order will empower people to choose the lowest-cost healthcare services, critics say it could increase healthcare prices if businesses are forced to disclose competitively negotiated, proprietary rates from insurers, and that it would push the healthcare system to once again pay for volume over value. This could result in higher costs and worse care for patients.

In integrative medicine, the prospect of a healthcare industry that leans more heavily on health savings accounts opens possibilities to care for patients who could not previously afford integrative services. Empowering patients to become savvier and choose their own care paths and budgets could be an interesting opportunity for integrative providers.

What do you think of the new order? Send your comments to Integrative Practitioner editor Katherine Rushlau at [email protected].