A proposal from both inside and outside the Wisconsin Capitol would let people know how much they are paying for most health care and medical procedures before they go to the doctor.
Sen. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, on Wednesday, introduced what she’s calling the Know Your Healthcare Cost Act.
“[The plan] requires hospitals to make publicly available a machine-readable digital file that contains a list of standard charges of certain services provided by the hospital. As well as a consumer-friendly list of standard charges for certain shoppable services” Felzkowski said.
The goal, Will Flanders with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty said, is to inject the free market into the health care market.
“Some say that the market has failed in health care, and the only solution is a nationalized system,” Flanders told reporters at the Capitol. “But the truth is that a free market system has not existed in the health care industry in decades, thanks largely to the inaccessibility of information to empower consumers in their decision making. Price transparency is an important first step in altering this paradigm and restoring a sense of normalcy to our out of control health care costs.”
Flanders added that Wisconsin’s hospital costs are now the fourth-highest nationally. Polls say 67% of Americans worry about unexpected medical bills, and 90% of people in Wisconsin support price transparency to better control their costs.
Felzkowski said the proposed Wisconsin law would mirror federal rules on price transparency but with what she hopes is a difference.
“Somebody put a really interesting book on my desk about two months ago, it’s called Stop Waiting for Washington. So that’s what we’ve decided to do in this state,” Felzkowski said. “I’ve been in this building for 10 years, and this was a conversation that was happening 10-years ago. And for 10 years we’ve seen no movement on helping our constituents with the high cost of health care.”
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, a large influential business association, and other Republican lawmakers also support the plan.
“Informed health care consumers create a competitive market,” Rachel Ver Velde of the association said Wednesday. “It is vitally important for employers and their employees to have access to transparent and easily understood medical cost data.”
Sen. Julian Bradley, R-Franklin, said there are, obviously, some medical procedures or treatments for which people won’t be able to shop. He said there are plenty of procedures that can be shopped.
“That’s what this bill does. It helps bring that transparency to light, it helps bring those costs to light,” Bradley said. “When we talk about shoppable services, we’re not talking about emergency services. We’re talking about things that can be scheduled, non-emergency services procedures that you can take the time to look forward to, to get scheduled, and to make the best decision for yourself.”