Tag: Alex Azar

The ABC of Price Transparency Regulation: Everything You Need to Know

Abhinav Shashank

By Abhinav Shashank, CEO, Innovaccer.

The healthcare circles in the United States are reeled up by debates around the need for price transparency.

The federal agencies are coming up with regulations.

Healthcare associations are weighing in their concerns.

Physicians, patients, and economists – everyone is articulating the pros and cons in a rather plausible manner.

Wait. What has triggered this rush towards transparency?

To begin with, the healthcare costs across the country have gone from “extreme” to “unreal” in the last two to three decades. A regular MRI scan, for instance, costs twice as much as it does in Switzerland, another country where healthcare is considered “notably expensive.”

Worse still, one simply cannot tell how much money they might end up paying at a healthcare facility at any given point. A broken bone can take thousands of dollars to get fixed or at no cost at all – depending on a dozen factors that can vary drastically with each patient.

Frankly, there is no single moment that burst the bubble around the soaring healthcare costs. In many cases, what hurt patients more than the total cost of a procedure is the out-of-pocket expense that they are made to pay. The focus today has shifted to one fundamental question – how much money is justified for a given care procedure; and are we entitled to know it or not?

Cut to 2019, a movement to make care prices transparent is shaking the establishments across the US.

What is the government saying?

The government has taken the onus of ensuring transparency in healthcare prices. Last month, the White House issued an executive order aimed at making payers and providers publish the cost of each procedure available at their facility. The government believes that this step can get a long way in making patients take more informed decisions regarding their health and eliminate the opacity regarding the cost associated with such processes beforehand.

The intent here is to provide patients access to useful price and quality information and the incentives to find low-cost, high-quality care, something that can be a giant leap forward in the direction of enabling cost-effective care.

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HHS Proposes New Rules to Improve the Interoperability of Electronic Health Information

Image result for HHS logoThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today proposed new rules to support seamless and secure access, exchange and use of electronic health information. The rules, issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), would increase choice and competition while fostering innovation that promotes patient access to and control over their health information. The proposed ONC rule would require that patient electronic access to this electronic health information (EHI) be made available at no cost.

“These proposed rules strive to bring the nation’s healthcare system one step closer to a point where patients and clinicians have the access they need to all of a patient’s health information, helping them in making better choices about care and treatment,” said HHS secretary Alex Azar. “By outlining specific requirements about electronic health information, we will be able to help patients, their caregivers, and providers securely access and share health information. These steps forward for health IT are essential to building a healthcare system that pays for value rather than procedures, especially through empowering patients as consumers.”

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