Most observers agree that it is very, very difficult for patients to choose health services wisely based on prices, because prices in U.S. health care are generally not transparent. The primary reason for this is that it has been many decades since health providers have relied on patients to pay their bills directly.
Instead, their business models rely on submitting claims to health insurers. Of course, there are convenient clinics and a few doctors and ambulatory clinics which post prices up front. However, the patient who enters the hospital – where most health costs are incurred – enters a maze of opaque and incomprehensible prices.
Some people believe price transparency can be commanded by government: Enter the “all-payer claims database,” which an increasing number of states are embracing.
Read the entire article at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.