On June 24, former Oklahoma Rep. Ernest Istook, a Republican, challenged the wisdom of an executive order President Trump signed that same day. Without having seen the executive order (the opinion piece was written before the order was published), Istook adopted the most bizarre of positions: that giving patients complete information about the prices they’ll pay for healthcare services will drive prices higher.
Forget about the fact that the prices we pay for healthcare in the United States are already twice what’s paid in any other developed nation; instead, just consider the idea that knowing prices will lead to even higher prices. If that were true, imagine what we’d pay for food or gasoline or electricity.
Istook writes that since no healthcare provider will want to be the lowest paid, knowing what other providers are paid will lead them to charge more, causing prices to rise. If that were true, then showing us the price of a burger at McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s should drive prices up and not down. The same logic would have us demanding that Walmart and Target shield us from prices, too, lest they both start raising prices in a race to the top.
Dr. Tom Coburn is the Nick Ohnell Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a former two-term U.S. Senator from Oklahoma.
David Silverstein is the CEO of the Lean Methods Group and the founder of Broken Healthcare, a nonprofit patient advocacy group dedicated to achieved price transparency in healthcare.
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