George Washington University’s Master of Public Health program has complied a nice list of fourteen “organizations to watch” because they are moving the ball on price transparency. The woman who wrote the article, Emily Newhook, sent an email to NCPA bringing it to our attention. Unfortunately, we can hardly ever make time and space to profile lists compiled by other parties, but I decided to give this one a boost for a number of reasons.
First, it is exciting to see a school of public health get interested in this issue in a positive way. It was not too long ago that any proposal that included Health Savings Accounts or similar tools that removed healthcare dollars from insurers and returned them to patients brought forth wails of anguish from the public-health community about “barriers to care” and the like. Now, according to Ms. Newhook’s description: “This kind of price transparency empowers consumers to comparison shop for health care as they would a car, house or television, forcing higher priced providers to lower their prices to stay competitive.” This is unusual language for a school of public health, and is to be congratulated.
Second, I am a huge supporter of mobile health technology in all its aspects. NCPA has long supported telehealth, for example. Public health at GWU walks the talk by not only having an online Master’s program, but a mobile app which allows candidates to view and download the entire curriculum.
Third, I am a devoted follower of the Milken Institute’s Faster Cures center, which pursues research into speeding up medical innovation. I keep wanting to write about its research here, but never find the time and space. Faster Cures is a great public service by Mr. Milken, who has also endowed and named the GWU Milken School of Public Health. So, the GWU public-health team benefits simply by association.
As to the list of fourteen organizations to watch: My two favorites are Clear Health Costs and Health Care Bluebook, because both take you immediately to online calculators that help you estimate the price of a procedure. FAIR Health does the same. However, I have to admit a prejudice against it because it is the result of a shakedown of a private corporation by Andrew Cuomo when he was Attorney —General of New York in 2009, which I wrote about at the time.
Castlight Health and Change Healthcare are very interesting businesses, but their target is employers. An individual won’t get as much immediately useful information at those sites. The others lean towards advocacy, that is, more government mandates to disclose prices, which are unconvincing. I’ve previously discussed at least one of them, Catalyst for Payment Reform, at this blog.