Reform Should Create Transparencies Throughout Healthcare

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media , December 9, 2009

Proponents of greater transparency and accountability see the provisions as more than merely providing more information for consumers. Karen Pollitz, research professor at Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, said lawmakers will need to provide coverage choices for consumers, air tight reforms without loopholes, and a system that allows state and federal investigators to work proactively so they can police the marketplace rather than wait for consumer complaints.

"It's important for the federal government to join in this effort and take on a very proactive role to make sure these federal minimum standards are real," said Pollitz.

But just because these folks have bashed private insurers doesn't mean the health insurance industry should dismiss their opinions. In fact, everyone should agree that consumers need more information to make health insurance decisions. Isn't that what the healthcare consumerism movement was based upon?

Transparency is always a positive and I'm glad DeLauro has been active in getting these transparency and accountability provisions in health reform. Though she was successful in the House bill, there is still the question of whether they will make it into the final Senate bill.

"Whatever the final outcomes are, we have to fight for that transparency and accountability," said DeLauro.

Insurers should not view this push toward more transparency as a negative, but should instead see opportunity. Not only could this give an advantage to insurers with high medical-loss ratios, it could also lead to better educated healthcare consumers—and quite possibly reduce healthcare costs in the long run.

Les Masterson is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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