Summary: Jessie Gruman is one of our heroes. She has a great piece over at Kevinmd.com about the value of price transparency. Must read. We don’t fully agree, but it’s a great piece.
Jessie Gruman is the founder and president, Center for Advancing Health. She is the author of Aftershock: What to Do When You or Someone you Love is Diagnosed with a Devastating Diagnosis. She blogs on the Prepared Patient blog.
She starts with an anecdote referring to a trip to the emergency room for a baby, and then does an impassioned and informed post about price transparency. Here’s the ending:
“The biggest and most serious blow to idea that price transparency will lead to cost reductions, however, is that we can and will dispassionately step back in the midst of our own suffering or that of our mom or our baby or our spouse. We will stop, gather information and make a rational economic calculus about whether and which test or treatment we are willing to pay for.
“I am skeptical of our willingness and ability to do this. My experience as a patient and the stories I have heard over the years from those who are seeking health care — even with constrained resources — shows a remarkable impulse to focus on the steps that will reduce the suffering: Will this test give me or my clinician information about what to do next? Will this test or procedure help me get well or feel more comfortable or will it increase the pain? What are the short- and long-term consequences of taking/not taking this action? Price is a minor consideration if it enters the calculus at all.
“Should the price of our health care tests and treatments be transparent? Of course. There are times when some of us will want or need that information. Should anyone expect that simply by making this information available we will make dramatically different — and better — choices? No, because without quality and effectiveness information it is useless, and because our aim is much more expansive than getting the cheapest deal on our health care. Like the mom who took her daughter to the ED, we are each doing the best we can to use the tools of medicine in the moment so that we and those we love can live as well as we can for as long as we can. Jessie Gruman, “Are the benefits of price transparency overstated?”, kevinmd.com.