An honest answer to the question, How much will it cost? is what most people seeking price transparency in health care tend to be after. Yet, what health care costs you or your family, or even being given an opportunity to assess whether you can afford services, is not how price transparency in health care is defined by even the most dedicated, knowledgeable advocates. A 2014 report from a landmark task force of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, for example, states that what all patients deserve from health care price transparency is “accurate price estimates from a reliable source.” If this is the best definition of price transparency that a well-intentioned, well-informed task force suggests the American public can expect, one might reasonably suspect that, without dramatic reforms to financial structures of US health care, an honest answer to the question, How much will it cost? might not even be possible in many cases. This theme issue investigates why this problem matters clinically and ethically to every stakeholder, rich or poor, in the US health care system.
Accurate information about what health services will cost patients is often not available at key decision points, yet surprisingly high bills can undermine public trust in clinicians and organizations.
AMA J Ethics. 2022;24(11):E1031-1033. doi:
Professor Katie Watson joins Ethics Talk to consider key questions about clinical and legal risk management for clinicians trying keep patients safe and for patients with complex pregnancies trying to stay alive.
Dr Jing Li joins Ethics Talk to discuss her article, coauthored with Dr Robert Tyler Braun, Sophia Kakarala, and Dr Holly G. Prigerson: “How Should Cost-Informed Goals of Care Decisions Be Facilitated at Life’s End?”
Sarosh Nagar joins Ethics Talk to discuss his article, coauthored with Drs Leah Z. Rand and Aaron S. Kesselheim: “What Should US Policymakers Learn From International Drug Pricing Transparency Strategies?”