Trump’s Hospital Law

Donald Trump visiting a patient

via Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump visiting a patient

As Trump was fighting with Congress and Democrats over the issue of the government shutdown, his administrators implemented a new rule that could change health care for the public. Beginning this month, hospitals must publicly reveal the contents of their master prices lists, or chargemasters, online. These prices are rarely noticed by patients and are negotiated down by insurers or hidden in bills, and now they are being revealed online.

These lists are considered useless by the average patient, and they are partially right. These lists are often hundreds of pages long and are filled with many medical instructions and abbreviations. When advocates try to wrest these lists free, hospitals argue that they are proprietary information. Hospitals have argued that these rates are irrelevant since no one pays them after insurers have whittled them down. However, this argument is false, and this is confirmed by our wallets.

First, many hospitals target people with no insurance or whose insurer is not in their network. One example is the case of Wanda Wickizer; when Wanda received a brain hemorrhage in 2013, a Virginia hospital billed her $286,000 after a 20 percent “uninsured” discount on a hospital bill of $357,000; according to the list price, or the chargemaster, the patient would have paid $100,000 less. Second, these chargemasters will form the starting point for negotiations, allowing hospitals and insurers to take credit for beneficence when there are none.

In conclusion, Trump’s new hospital rule established by his administrators will benefit many patients to see unknown or hidden charges in their chargemasters. Although hospitals argue that these charges are irrelevant and useless, the case of Wanda Wickizer proves their argument false. I personally think that this new rule will be helpful, seeing the cases with Wanda Wickizer and her uninsured discounts. I think that many patients will save a lot of money from not paying hidden charges.