Today, most patients don’t have access to information about the actual cost of a medical service, whether it’s a medication, hospitalization, test, or surgery, making it increasingly difficult for them to be informed healthcare consumers. Worse yet, our opaque healthcare system makes it nearly impossible for patients to get a fair deal on their terms with many having no way of knowing whether recommended services are genuinely needed or whether there are potential alternatives.
We need to increase pricing transparency to enable patients to make healthcare decisions that are best for them and their families, and to ensure employers, health plans, and providers have sufficient information to purchase and design care that improves value.
We need to expand the availability of information and increase transparency to empower patients and payers, so they can choose lower cost, higher-value care. That means unshackling healthcare data for payers and encouraging providers and health systems to publish prices for patients to consider these factors as part of their care decisions.
We must increase the diffusion of innovation, providing patients and payers with information to understand when new technology is appropriate and valuable. Stakeholders should promote technologies that help patients engage in self-care and communicate more effectively with their providers, while resisting the rush toward new technologies that offer limited advantages with a higher price tag.
Three common sense reforms – allowing Medicare to directly negotiate prescription drug prices with drug companies, accelerating the move to a value-based care system and requiring greater price transparency – are key to lowering healthcare costs and improving health outcomes. West Health, a family of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations that spans research, policy and philanthropy, will convene major figures from the worlds of healthcare, business, policy and media for a national summit on how to best drive these reforms to create a system that is more transparent, competitive, affordable, person-centered, quality-driven and sustainable.
The rising cost of healthcare is a growing and major threat to our economy, our financial security and our individual health. For too long, we’ve been paying too much and not getting enough in return. The U.S. healthcare system is on an unsustainable cost trajectory. We have an urgent need to address this cost crisis so that healthcare can become more accessible and more affordable for all Americans. Now is the time.
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