A Trump administration executive order to require hospitals to disclose prices of procedures and tests is a good start to creating an environment of transparency with the consumer in command.

Consumer choice in medicine is a simple idea that should have been adopted years ago. With the cost of health care skyrocketing and affordability waning, it’s long past time consumers took control of their health care.

The executive order would require hospitals also let people know the cost of certain procedures, including how much insurance covers as well as copays and deductibles.

Insurance companies and hospitals oppose the disclosures, arguing the revelation of prices will actually cause some to raise their price and not negotiate deep discounts with insurance companies. That argument continues to defy logic. If providers raise prices, consumers can go elsewhere.

For too long the insurance, health care provider and benefit manager relationship has been secretive, hiding under the cloak of trade secrets.

But health care is moving from being a private good to a public service. As Baby Boomers age, more and more of them move to public programs like Medicare. It’s time the manager of that program, the government, and the people get the information needed to make prudent choices.

The executive order must go through rule-making, so it may not be implemented for months or even years. There is no doubt insurers and hospitals will lobby hard against it.

But taxpayers and health care consumers should demand it be implemented. Many solutions to rein in health care costs and provide affordable insurance failed. Maybe we should try to let the market fix this problem.

Transparency in pricing will be key.

The Free Press of Mankato, June 26

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