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Peeling away healthcare's sticker shock

Wired, October 17, 2012

The healthcare industry plays a gigantic game of Blind Man's Bluff, keeping patients in the dark while asking them to make life-and-death decisions. The odds that they will make the best choice are negligible and largely depend on chance. Patients need to have data, including costs and their own medical histories, liberated and made freely available for thorough analysis. What healthcare needs is a window sticker—a transparent, good-faith effort at making prices clear and setting market forces to work. How bad is it? Uwe Reinhardt, a leading health care economist, described the pricing of hospital services as "chaos behind a veil of secrecy." Chaos due to lack of predictability; veil of secrecy because many organizations take a proprietary attitude toward data.