“We don’t want to deal with this, especially when the doctor tells you stress is bad for the pregnancy,” her husband, J.D., said. But imposing greater transparency has been controversial in both the medical industry and among some health care researchers, who say it puts patients in an untenable position.
The transparency law “was written by someone thinking about health care as a TV, and not as health care,” said Sandra Tanenbaum, a professor of health services management and policy at The Ohio State University College of Public Health.
She said people could not shop for procedures as they would for a TV or car repairs, since they often lack information on the quality of doctors and hospitals, and make health care decisions based on much more than cost.
Consumers are more likely to base their decisions on their doctors’ advice, not on cost alone, according to a report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio.
Only around 10 percent of health care costs are even “shoppable” expenses — procedures that can be scheduled in advance, like an MRI or elective surgery — according to the HPIO.
Regardless, Butler maintains, the health care industry can give consumers better information upfront. “If you really want patients to be empowered, they really need the information,” he said.
The Ohio Hospital Association, along with seven other Ohio health organizations, went to court last December to block the law, a month before it was supposed to take effect.
Butler said Gov. Kasich’s administration is helping the hospital association stall by not writing regulations, eliminating funding for the law in the state budget, and declining to meet with Butler to discuss it.
State Rep. Michael Henne, also a Republican, has worked with Butler in the Ohio General Assembly on the transparency law. He called Butler a “driver” on the law, noting: “It’s frustrating. You don’t realize how much [influence] special interests have in the process.”
Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.