Policy Perspectives: Why Choice Matters in Healthcare

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Policy Perspectives: Why Choice Matters in Healthcare

This is Part 1 and an introduction to an ongoing series by Em Landon, JD, MDR, Director of Legislative Affairs. Stay tuned for more policy updates on price transparency, prior authorization, interoperability, and more in the coming months.

Choice. It is one of the most primary and foundational tenets of American democracy and society. Never before has the power and freedom of choice (or the lack thereof) been a more important issue to discuss.

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision of Dobbs v. Jackson, the discourse on choice became the pivotal focus. State’s choice versus women’s choice. A key takeaway of this groundbreaking case is the importance of preserving the sacred right of “choice.”

So how do we protect and empower the freedom to choose? How do we enable choice? We must provide the necessary and relevant information for the decisionmaker first, to know there is a choice; and second, to make an informed decision.

In almost every buying decision, one inescapable factor to consider is the price tag. We, as consumers, typically know the price of each option available and factor that into our decision as we make our coveted choice. No matter how glorious that spicy red convertible looks, the first question is likely, “How much does it cost?”

With the recent rise in global gas prices, we are painfully informed consumers. We know the price of gas before we fill up our thirsty car. In fact, the prices are clearly displayed in dazzling lights above the gas station to show the consumer exactly what they will be paying. Similarly, we do not buy our groceries without knowing the price of the gallon of milk.  We do not buy our clothes without knowing the price of the shirt. We do not buy the ticket without knowing the price of the seat. Because price is so integral in the decision-making process, we as consumers refuse to purchase without first knowing the cost.

However, price transparency stops short when it comes to healthcare. One of the most common ways consumers interact with the healthcare system is through prescriptions. As consumers, patients should know what the price of their medication will be when they walk up to the pharmacy counter. Too often however, a patient will go to the pharmacy and find out that the drug their doctor prescribed is too expensive or is not covered by insurance. The patient then goes home empty-handed and frustrated that their doctor wrote a prescription they could not afford. This tension leads to distrust in their physician and can significantly impact their health outcomes.

Why do we accept not knowing the price of something as intimate, lifesaving, and vital to our health as a prescription? Why is it that consumer transparency and consumer choice is protected in almost all other sectors and industries? As consumers of health, patients have less transparency, autonomy, and empowerment in their care.

Patients must be given the same rights and access to pricing information as other consumers. They must be active in their own decisions when the conversation concerns what is best for their health.

Just this decade, price transparency policy is becoming a reality, leading to the publishing of prices for covered services. But thousands of lines of data and endless iterations of complex plan designs prevent the average patient from truly understanding what they owe prior to receiving care. While price transparency policy is providing tailwinds, it has not gone far enough to help average consumers and providers understand real-time costs and make informed care decisions.

True price transparency provides clarity in the murky morass of healthcare and prescription costs. It enables consumer choice by providing informed decision-making power and increased visibility into lower-cost and alterative options. In choosing patients over profits, we must give patients their right of choice through transparency. We must allow consumers to understand and choose what health care regimen is best for them.

The freedom of consumer choice must be protected. By providing transparency at the point of care, Arrive Health is putting patients back in the driver’s seat. Arrive Health works to ensure that patients and providers have the information needed to make the best choice when it matters most. Arrive Health is clearing the way for better data, better decisions, and better care.

Through this blog series, we will provide a glimpse into price transparency, interoperability, and prior authorization policy, to shed light on successes, as well as some of the hurdles that we – as an industry – are coming up against in terms of providing patients access to affordable care.

Part 2 Coming Soon.

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