If you did not watch the Academy Awards, you may have missed a new national campaign. It wasn’t about COVID. It wasn’t about the opioid crisis, anti-bullying, or suicide prevention. It was about medical price transparency – Power to the Patients – “Our Health. Our Money.”
The campaign strives to raise awareness that knowing what a medical procedure will cost before receiving care is a patient’s right. Ambassadors for the campaign include Susan Sarandon, Cynthia Erivo, and Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet. Artist and activist Shepard Fairey is painting bold murals proclaiming “Prices are now a patient’s right. Demand them!!!” in cities across the U.S., including New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, Indianapolis, Seattle, Detroit, Greensboro, Clarksdale, and Albuquerque. More murals are in the works.
The Power to the Patients website provides tips on how to shop for medical services. “Do not accept estimates or averages, only actual prices.” “Ask for the total ‘bundled’ price, including all anesthesia, labs, radiology, medical devices, physician fees, and facilities fees.”
Despite requirements that went into effect on January 1, 2021 requiring all U.S. hospitals to publish clear and accessible pricing information for 300 “shoppable” services and machine-readable files including rates for all services, nearly two-thirds of the 100 largest hospitals did not meet all the requirements of the new rule and only 22% of hospitals were fully compliant. A $300 per day non-compliance fine (even if enforced) hasn’t achieved compliance.
Maybe the Power to the Patients campaign can accomplish what our government has been unable to accomplish – meaningful price transparency for patients.