Below is a discussion post written by my colleague. Please respond to this post using a minimum of 250 words. Use peer reviewed resources. Do not give opinions, but state facts. The goal here is to expand and enhance the discussion with additional ideas and references.
I chose to analyze a rather interesting case study entitled “Improving Price Transparency for Consumer Health Care Services.” Price transparency in healthcare is a hotly debated and controversial topic that was brought to the forefront in the 2020 Presidential election. House, Hunt, & Umeh (2020) note that the health care industry is unique in that consumers are not immediately aware of the expected costs for the health care services they seek (p. 128). This is a significant problem that can lead to predatory billing practices, price gouging, and patients receiving exorbitant medical bills that they truly do not understand. Politicians have attempted to remedy this issue through legislation, first in the Affordable Care Act and then more recently through the passing of Executive Order 13877 which President Trump signed into law in 2019. Section 1 of the executive order reads “to make fully informed decisions about their healthcare, patients must know the price and quality of a good or service in advance (Woolley et al, 2020, para. 1).
This is an issue that is truly unique to the healthcare industry, as there is no other profession in which the customer is completely unaware of the cost of a service that is being provided to them. Imagine going into a restaurant, opening the menu, and finding that there are no prices listed for the food items. Furthermore, it is also the only profession (that I can think of) in which prices vary with such significance from one location to another for the same service.
This is where price transparency in healthcare becomes an ethical issue, as those within the medical profession are very much aware of the significant price discrepancies from one hospital to another. And while those within medicine are not public servants per se, patients come to them at their weakest moments and place all their trust in physicians. They have an obligation (perhaps even a Hippocratic Oath) to not take advantage of their patients. According to Shafritz & Hyde (2017), public service is a concept, an attitude, a sense of duty—yes, even a sense of public morality (p. 492).
Furthermore, those within healthcare are also fully aware that the average citizen will have difficulty navigating what has become a very complex healthcare system. A typical patient is only aware that he/she is responsible for their co-payment and deductible. They have no intimate knowledge of the costs associated with the medical service that they require or what expenses are covered by their medical provider. House, Hunt, & Umeh (2020) state that it can be difficult to have a complete understanding of the full cost of these services—especially for serious illnesses and more complex conditions (p. 128). Implementing price transparency aims to remedy this by allowing patients to act more like consumers, they are provided the opportunity to “shop around” and compare medical services from hospital to hospital. “Providing a standardized set of price information in a user-friendly format could help to ensure consistency and increase the likelihood that consumers will understand the information provided” (House et al, 2020, p. 127).
Much in the same manner that President Bush called for a renewed interest in public service in the late 1980’s in order to increase public trust in the government, doctors today like Dr. Marty Makary view price transparency as a way of mending a diminishing patient-client relationship. He states that the US healthcare system needs to “reduce overprescribing, increase price transparency, make medical billing practices fairer, and recapture the public’s trust in the health care system” (Mattina, 2020, para. 1).
In bringing these issues to light (Makary has written two books on the need for price transparency in healthcare), Dr. Makary is very much acting in the spirit of classical statesmanship. In doing so, “he is not advocating any particular political policy, institution, or even ideology. His goal is to shape the overarching character and way of life of his fellow citizens” (Baldwin, 2012, p. 74). Those within healthcare are resistant to change and doctors such as Makary face harsh criticism from their colleagues. Throughout both his books (The Price We Pay/Unaccountable), Dr. Makary references the ethical obligation he has as a doctor to do what is right by his patients. Ruderman (2012) states that the deepest morality may have to enter contentious waters and steel itself to widespread public opprobrium (p. 89).
It is imperative that those within healthcare embrace the implementation of price transparency due to the unique relationship they share with their patients. People come to them at their most vulnerable times and place every ounce of trust that they have in medical professionals believing in their expertise. Healthcare is like no other profession in that way. Price transparency can be used as a method to increase the publics trust in the profession while at the same time re-personalizing healthcare.
In Matthew 10:8 Jesus directed his twelve apostles to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give” (Holy Bible, NIV, 2011). Leaders within healthcare need to take a transformational leadership approach, which according to Fischer (2010) entails encouraging followers to look beyond their own self-interest and focus on the transcendent, meaningful goals of the organization (p. 48).
Baldwin, C. (2012). Franklin’s Classical American Statesmanship. Perspective on Political Science, 41(2), 67-74.
Fischer, K. (2010). A Biblical-Covenantal Perspective on Organizational Behavior & Leadership. Liberty University Faculty Publications and Presentations. https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent…
House, M., Hunt, S., Umeh, A. (2020). Improving Price Transparency for Consumer Health Care Services. Journal of Business and Behavioral Sciences, 32(2), 126-137.
Mattina, C. (2020). Makary Calls for Price Reform, Transparency to Fulfill Patient-Centered Medical Heritage. The American Journal of Managed Care, 1-7.
Ruderman, R. (2012). Statesmanship Reconsidered. Perspective on Political Science, 41(2), 86-89.
Shafritz, J. Hyde, A. (2017). Classics of Public Administration. Boston, MA. Cengage Learning.
The Holy Bible New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan Publishing.
Woolley, T. (2019). Executive Order 13877. The American Presidency Project. https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/document/executive…