by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Trump has been the champion of reducing red tape. That’s why it’s confusing that he plans to issue an executive order requiring healthcare insurers and providers to reveal the details of their pricing contracts.
Reducing the cost of healthcare is a well-intentioned goal. However, this so-called “transparency” plays into the never-ending myth that a new government mandate will fix what ails us.
The plan sounds deceptively simple: Government will require insurers and providers — doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc. — to disclose the prices of care they negotiate, including routine checkups, drugs, major surgeries, in-patient treatments, medical supplies, therapies, and more. In doing so, the speculation goes, patients would be able to make more informed choices and might save money.
Testing this theory has enormous costs. Even if we ignore the economists and experts who warn this proposal can increase prices in other ways, the cost of implementing regulations would be passed on to taxpayers and the cost of compliance would be passed on to patients.
Yet lawmakers and activists are pushing the president and already are patting themselves on the back for “doing something” about healthcare costs, even though their plan would empower federal bureaucrats far more than consumers.