On C-SPAN, FAIR Health Provides Thought Leadership on Hospital Price Transparency

On January 7, FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd was invited to appear on C-SPAN to discuss the new federal rule requiring hospitals to post the prices of procedures online, which became effective on January 1. The appearance was part of FAIR Health’s broader role of providing thought leadership on healthcare price transparency, including as it relates to hospitals.

The Beginning of a Journey

Interviewed on the “Your Money” segment of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Ms. Gelburd stated that the new regulation was the beginning of a price transparency journey that has “been long in coming.” “It is sending a signal right now that consumers deserve this information and it is incumbent upon all of us to help them travel on this journey,” she said.

Recognizing that the price information that hospitals have posted, known as chargemasters, may be confusing to consumers, Ms. Gelburd said that hospitals and the federal government would likely get feedback that would help make the presentation of information more user-friendly. In the meantime, she noted, FAIR Health already maintains a free, award-winning consumer website, fairhealthconsumer.org, that can help put the hospital price lists in context. FAIR Health Consumer offers cost estimates for thousands of medical and dental procedures, allowing consumers to compare the prices they receive from an individual hospital to typical prices in their geographic area. The site also provides educational information on healthcare and health insurance.

Ms. Gelburd drew an analogy to the start of a road trip when the windshield is foggy. The new regulation, in effect, presses the defroster so the mist begins to dissolve, but the journey has only begun, and signs along the road are needed to complete it.

Ms. Gelburd emphasized that even though hospitals negotiate prices with individual health insurance plans, the undiscounted prices on the chargemasters are still important to consumers who are uninsured and to consumers who go out of network, whether voluntarily or not.

Expertise on Healthcare Price Transparency

C-SPAN is one of several media outlets that recently has drawn on FAIR Health’s expertise on healthcare price transparency. On January 6, the Mercury News quoted Ms. Gelburd’s views on the new hospital price transparency rule. On January 12, the Westchester County Business Journal cited her C-SPAN appearance in an article on the rule. Ms. Gelburd is frequently interviewed on and has articles published on healthcare price transparency. FAIR Health provides expert assistance on the issue to state legislatures across the country and to members of both major parties in Congress and to the White House.

“Even though this is the beginning of transparency,” Ms. Gelburd said in her C-SPAN interview, “the goal is really to get to clarity.” At a time when healthcare pricing is in the public spotlight, FAIR Health is dedicated to helping bring about that clarity.