The CEO of the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Noseworthy, was last heard recommending patients fire their physicians suffering from burnout. While he does not have truckloads of compassion or empathy for colleagues; he is, at least, honest. Dr. Noseworthy recently confessed “We’re asking…if the patient has commercial insurance, or they’re Medicaid or Medicare patients and they’re equal that we prioritize the commercial insured patients enough so… We can be financially strong at the end of the year to continue to advance our mission.” The ‘ailing’ nonprofit generated a paltry $475 million last year.
Legislators in more than 30 states have proposed legislation to promote price transparency, with most efforts focused around publishing average or median prices for hospital services. Some states already have price transparency policies in place. California requires hospitals to give patients cost estimates for the 25 most common outpatient procedures. Texas requires providers to disclose price information to patients upon request. Ohio passed price transparency legislation last year; however a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Hospital Association has delayed implementation. The cost of a knee replacement is $15,500 at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, whereas the national average is $49,500.
There is a growing body of evidence that hospital mergers lead to higher prices for consumers, employers, insurance, and government overall. It is imperative to educate patients and lawmakers as to how the consolidation of hospitals and medical practices raise costs, decrease access, eliminate jobs, and ultimately reduce care quality as a result. Lawmakers should focus on this “first pillar” of cost control as they go back to the drawing board.