Healthcare is a hot topic in the 2020 presidential race. How could it not be, when a recent survey found that 82 percent of respondents feel our healthcare system is broken?
Regardless of political party, the majority of us clearly agree that reform is needed to provide Americans with quality healthcare at an affordable price.
President Trump’s approach is to tackle our pricing system and create competition that will ultimately drive down costs. As a first step, he’s shining a spotlight on three main parts of our healthcare system that are particularly confusing to consumers: hospital pricing transparency, prescription drug prices and VA Choice.
By emphasizing price and quality in these areas, the logic goes, consumers will be presented with competing options, and providers will either be forced to improve their service and price, or lose patients. This competition-based approach could change healthcare as we know it.
Hospital Pricing Transparency
Starting in 2021, hospitals will be required to post the prices of procedures. This is unheard of – hospital pricing has long been opaque and discounted rates are held close to the vest so that no patient who enters the hospital is able to predict what their final bill may be. To make matters worse, before a procedure is completed, patients typically are asked to sign a form that says they will pay the bill for their care, without even knowing how much it might be. For example, when I went to the hospital to deliver my daughter, we were required to agree to pay all of the medical bills before they would deliver her.
President Trump’s hospital pricing transparency will require hospitals to post their prices on their website so that patients are able to compare prices and research reviews before they decide on which hospital to choose. The net effect of hospital pricing transparency is predicted to drive prices down as hospitals are confronted with the realities of competition between their rates and resulting consumer behaviors.
Prescription Drug Costs
President Trump is also creating an environment of competition with prescription drug pricing. In a series of Executive Orders, President Trump ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to create regulations that allow citizens to buy prescriptions from other countries who provide safe mediations. Allowing citizens to shop for their prescription medications outside the US will naturally cause price comparison and competition between countries.
President Trump is also enforcing a most-favored nations approach so that the US consumer does not pay more than a consumer from a comparable nation. The combination of these measures is designed to create competition in a market that has experienced very little. As the market reacts, prescription drug prices in the US will drop.
Veterans Choice Program (VA Choice)
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a storied history of poor service and outcomes for our brave heroes. Over the years, veterans have reported exorbitant wait times for care and tremendous difficulty receiving service from VA Hospitals. President Trump worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs to rectify these wrongs.
One important strategy President Trump employed is the Veterans Choice Program, also known as VA Choice, which allows veterans to choose between the VA Hospital and a civilian provider, when care is not easily accessible from their Veterans Affairs Department provider. As such, a veteran who was obligated to use the VA Hospital before to receive benefits can now choose a civilian provider, while still using their benefits. Allowing veterans to shop their healthcare outside of the VA network will help create a culture of competition, encouraging VA Hospitals and providers to work harder to ensure our veterans choose their services.
The goal of President Trump’s healthcare plan is to reduce prices and creates competition among hospital, pharmaceutical and other providers. By giving consumers more information and options, they can make better decisions for their healthcare and their budget, while maintaining a high quality of care.
Jan Dubauskas is a healthcare expert, enthusiastic insurance pro, attorney and mom serving as vice president of healthinsurance.com.
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