Executive Order Issued On Health Care Costs

An executive order issued by President Donald Trump will give consumers more information about what their health care will cost before they get it. The order calls for upfront disclosure by hospitals of the actual prices for common tests and procedures. The idea is to give patients practical data that they can use to help save money.

The executive order calls for federal agencies to create rules and procedures for what information will have to be disclosed and how it will be made available to patients. While the prices Medicare pays are publicly available, private insurers’ negotiated rates generally are not. The order also requires that patients be told ahead of time what out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and copays, will be for many procedures.

In a statement at the White House, President Trump said, “For too long it’s been virtually impossible for Americans to know the real price and quality of health care services and the services they receive. As a result, patients face significant obstacles shopping for the best care at the best price, driving up health care costs for everyone. With today’s historic action, we are fundamentally changing the nature of the health care marketplace.”

President Trump’s executive order also calls for expanded uses for health savings accounts, a tax-advantaged way to pay health care bills. The accounts can be used to pay out-of-pocket costs for routine medical exams and procedures. It also aims to improve the reporting of information on the government’s various health care quality rating systems for hospitals, nursing homes, and Medicare Advantage plans.

Increased access by researchers to health care information, such as claims for services covered by government programs like Medicare, is also part of the order. No details that could identify individual patients would be included. The new order follows earlier regulation from the Trump administration requiring drug companies to disclose the list prices for medications costing more than $35 for a month’s supply. That ruling takes effect on July 1.