Consumers are admonished to be “smart shoppers,” but that’s difficult if health care prices are clear as mud. When Sarah Macsalka’s son needed stitches, she did her best to avoid the ER and still ended up with a $3,000 bill.
Health care is still a top issue in the Democratic primary debate for president, but the candidates’ complicated plans may be doing more to confuse than to educate voters. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Caitlin Owens of Axios and Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more health news. Also, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week.
The final directive drew swift responses from the hospital and insurance industries. The Trump administration also released a proposed rule that would require health insurers to spell out for all services beforehand just how much patients may owe for their out-of-pocket costs.
In America, there is medicine to treat the common cold, regulate diabetes, lower blood pressure and even help cure cancer. But pharmaceutical drugs do Americans little good if they can’t afford them.
The cost of healthcare has become a hot topic in American politics in recent years, and with good reason. A recent Bankrate survey found that 22 percent of Americans are losing sleep over healthcare or insurance costs, up from 13 percent just one year ago.
Most hospitals appear to be complying with the federal rule to post their prices online. Yet there is little follow-up by the government or industry and debate continues about whether the price lists are creating more confusion than clarity among consumers.
Health was a featured player in President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address. The president set goals to bring down prescription drug prices, end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and cure childhood cancer, among other things. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Alice Ollstein of Politico join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and, for “extra credit,” provide their favorite health policy stories of the week. Rovner also interviews KHN senior correspondent Phil Galewitz about the current “Bill of the Month” feature.