Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump's short-on-specifics healthcare plan does contain one concrete element that has so far been elusive in the sector: Price transparency for patients.
Price transparency must be required of "all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure," said Trump's position on healthcare, which was posted last week on his campaign website.
The issue of price transparency has become more of a sore spot in recent years as the out-of-pocket costs for consumers continue to grow dramatically. Currently, most states receive failing grades for health price transparency, according to the organization Catalyst for Payment Reform.
Even in states that mandate transparency, such as Massachusetts, it is often an enormous challenge for patients to obtain even the most elementary pricing information for basic procedures.
Currently, many states that have websites that provide prices for healthcare procedures reveal only a range of prices and often omit critical information, such as how much anesthesiologists and other physicians will charge for their services.
Much of the rest of the Trump position on healthcare is GOP boilerplate: Repeal the Affordable Care Act; allow insurers to sell policies across state lines; block grant Medicaid funding to states; and add more flexibility regarding the use of healthcare spending accounts.
Jim Purcell, former chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, criticized the sale of health insurance across state lines in an opinion piece. He believes it would cut premiums no more than 2 percent, and would lead to deregulation of a sector that needs regulation.