Lack of Hospital Prices: An Example of Complexity Confounding Reform

Guest post by Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, leader of the Hospital Performance Improvement practice at Berkeley Research Group.

One symptom of the complexity of hospitals is our inability to give consumers upfront prices for procedures and services. In May 2006, Mike Leavitt, then Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, wrote an Op Ed in which he observed:

“Americans know the price of almost everything they pay for, except for one of the most important things they pay for — their healthcare. With a point and click, they can find the price of anything from clothes to cars. Yet they don’t know what they are paying for healthcare and what sort of quality to expect in return.”

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