Are you confident you’re paying a fair price for your health care?Probably not. Think about the last time you went to the emergency room. What was going through your head? Maybe you were anxious about the fate of an injured loved one; consoling a sick child; or maybe you were focused on the pain you yourself were experiencing.Medical bills may have been the last thing on your mind. You were there because you needed care right away—no matter what the cost.Unfortunately, patients are often shocked weeks or even months after a hospital visit with a hefty bill. Sometimes these bills are thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
When we go to a hospital we have no way of knowing what we’ll be charged for our visit.
Even when we have time to plan ahead for a procedure, it’s impossible to compare the prices of our health care options. Prices for the same procedure vary extensively from hospital to hospital, and across different insurance plans. For example, the cost of an appendectomy can range anywhere from $1500 to more than $180,000 depending on where you go.
No other industry in the US operates with this much ambiguity—where insurance companies negotiate different prices with each hospital, leaving patients, their employers and even doctors completely in the dark about cost.
Unpredictable medical bills can leave patients and their families with medical debt that follows them for the rest of their lives. No family should struggle to stay in their home or put food on the table because of a health problem.
With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, we’ve made great progress in connecting more people with health insurance. In the coming years demand for health care is only going to rise. We need to make sure increasing demand doesn’t exacerbate our already skyrocketing health care prices. Now is the time to bring transparency to our health care system.This week Eileen’s committee passed House Bill 1437, which would bring clarity and transparency to health care costs.If this bill is signed into law we’ll be able to compare quality and price among doctors, hospitals and insurance companies just like we do when buying a car.The bill creates a statewide database of health insurance claims so patients and their doctors can compare quality measures and prices before they ever enter a hospital’s doors.
House Bill 1437 will give all Washingtonians the information they need to make informed, responsible decisions about their health care. We’re looking forward to voting for the bill on the House floor.
We want to hear from you! What would health care cost transparency mean for you and your loved ones? What other health care policies would you like to see us pursue? Our contact information is below—please get in touch!