Announcement of Public Workshop, "Examining Health Care Competition" ("Health Care Workshop") Project No. P13-1207 #00097

Submission Number:
Nabeel Qureshi
New York
Initiative Name:
Announcement of Public Workshop, "Examining Health Care Competition" ("Health Care Workshop") Project No. P13-1207
Recent pushes towards price transparency have been met with pushbacks from hospitals and providers. Fragmented laws, interest, and a lack of information for private market solutions have lead to an unchecked system that makes hospitals and providers of care akin to monopolies. The decision required with action on price transparency is which avenue should be taken to keep markets competitive, provider-side or consumer-side solutions. This necessitates action by the FTC to make sure the market is competitive and benefits the health and finances of the patients seeking care. By making reference data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies publicly available, consumers will gain the knowledge needed to push for more competitive pricing, reduce large discrepancies in procedure prices, and improve the quality and affordability of the care they seek. The FTC has the purview to keep the market for healthcare services competitive from the provider side and arm consumers with the information they need to keep the price of their care competitive. The fragmented healthcare system in America necessitates action by the FTC in remedying the questionable pricing tactics employed by providers. It is recommended that the FTC, with this dual ability and skill in keeping market competitive, take an active role in promoting price transparency. In particular, the FTC should make public price reference guides from the Center for Medicare Services to empower consumers to negotiate their healthcare services prices. Further activity would involve taking an active role in making sure consumers had the information necessary to negotiate prices, which involves pursuing a strategy that does the following: - Increase the competition between providers to give consumers the best price for medical services - Coordinate the public reporting by the Center for Medicare Service to make reference prices available and up-to-date for consumer use. - Expand the FTC mandate to include forging partnerships with providers to make data available to better aid individuals in the private market o Recommend legislation or incentivize hospitals and large provider groups to make price information public o Regulate pricing protocols if large discrepancies occur between private and public providers - Expand the purview of the FTC to scrutinize legislative activity that keeps price information from hospitals and providers hidden from consumers - Reduce provider collusion monopolies by reducing systems that allow for providers to agree on artificially high prices o Increase transparency in pricing decisions o Collect data in real-time to keep pricing information up-to-date to give consumers as much information as they can to negotiate their prices. Further action will still be required keep the healthcare service market competitive. These are the first steps needed to deal with the problem. Subsequent action should work to regulate price-setting practices by providers and insurers as well as medical technology manufacturers. Consumer empowerment, however, is the necessary first step in cost containment through true price transparency. I am a student at Columbia University. However, this comment to the Federal Trade Commission reflects my own personal opinions. This is not representative of the views of Columbia University or the Trustees of Columbia University