price transparency

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Americans are divided on lots of issues. But a new national survey finds that people across the political spectrum agree on at least one thing: Our health care system needs fixing.

Courtesy of Dr. Marty Makary

The United States spends more than $3 trillion on health care every year. That comes out to about double the spending per person than other wealthy nations—yet with worse health outcomes in comparison.


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Before you buy a computer, or a used car or even a pair of pants, you probably know the price you'll pay. The same is not always true when buying health care.  But as people pay and more of their health care costs—thanks in part to high-deductible health plans—there's growing demand to know prices upfront. It's a concept known as price transparency.

One hospital in rural Missouri is catering to that demand, by developing a price-list for medical procedures. For help, the hospital is turning to a group who've been getting price transparency for years: the Amish and Mennonites. 

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Millersburg, Ohio is a 700-mile drive from Unionville, Missouri, so it’s an unlikely place for a Unionville resident to schedule a medical procedure. That is, unless they’re paying cash.

It was worth it for Truman, a Mennonite farmer who lives just outside of Unionville. "The best price I could get around here, I would still save $3000 to $4000 [by] going to Ohio," he recalls.