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Letters

Imagine a situation where you knew just what your surgery would cost

Deborah and Glenn Davis go over records at their home in Mashpee, following their dispute with Harvard Pilgrim over coverage of her ankle surgery.
Deborah and Glenn Davis go over records at their home in Mashpee, following their dispute with Harvard Pilgrim over coverage of her ankle surgery.DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

Deborah Davis’s nearly $3,000 surgery bill only hints at the scope and size of the surprise medical billing problem (“Post-op pain: Patient hit with bill of $2,800 despite insurer’s assurances,” Page A1, Oct. 14). Recent research from Stanford University finds that such blindsiding medical invoices hit nearly 40 percent of hospital patients.

And that does not include soaring monthly premiums and annual deductible costs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, average family premium costs for employer-provided insurance exceeded $20,000 this year. Employees have seen their portion of premium costs rise by 71 percent, to $6,000, and their deductibles double since 2009.

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Transparent prices for health care services would reduce these inflated and surprising costs. Transparency happens when providers, insurers, and third-party administrators post their secret negotiated rates and cash prices. Armed with this information, employers and patients can shop for price and quality, putting downward pressure on prices of care and coverage, as in other economic sectors.

Some intrepid employers such as H.B. Global in Pennsylvania have already reduced their health care costs by about 50 percent by directly contracting with price-transparent surgical centers. This has allowed them to offer their employees no copays, no deductibles, and cash bonuses from shared savings.

Imagine getting a check, not a bill, next time you have surgery.

Cynthia A. Fisher

Founder and chairman

PatientRightsAdvocate.org

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