Alexander Says “Black Box” On Health Care Costs Makes It Hard For Americans To Be Smart Consumers

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander on Tuesday said, “the cost of health care has remained in a black box.”


He said, “Secretary Azar recently told the story of his doctor ordering a routine echo cardio stress test.

He was sent down the street and admitted to the hospital, where, after considerable effort on his part, he learned the test would cost him $3,500. After using a website that compiled typical prices for medical care, he learned the same test would have cost just $550 in a doctor’s office. Secretary Azar said that consumers are so in the dark they often feel ‘powerless.’”


Senator Alexander made his remarks today at the fourth hearing in a series on how to reduce health care costs, focused on finding ways to improve transparency about the cost and quality of health care for patients.


“The Internet has made it easier for consumers to know more about what they want to purchase before they actually buy it,” Senator Alexander. “You can easily read an online review and compare prices for everything from a coffee maker to a new car. This is true for everything else but not for health care – the cost of health care has remained in a black box.”


“Today’s hearing, the fourth in a series on reducing the cost of health care, is an opportunity to learn how we can improve what information is easily available about the cost and quality of health care, so patients can make the best health care decisions for them, their families, and their wallet. Without better information, health care stays in that black box, making it hard for Americans to be good consumers, make good decisions, and pay reasonable amounts for necessary health care.”


See Senator Alexander’s full prepared remarks here.

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