The Concept of Transparency

By: Jay Kempton

Jay Kempton

As consumers, we expect to know the value of the things we buy. Before setting out to make major purchases, we survey the landscape of advertisements and consumer reviews. We look for quality products and determine a fair price we’re willing to pay. We ask critical questions like, “can I get this cheaper at another retailer or online?” However, in one area of our lives, all critical analysis of cost and quality seems to cease: our healthcare purchasing decisions.

To be fair, there are reasons why we shy away from asking, “how much?” when pursuing healthcare options. When it comes to the point in which we need medical treatment, we want it as quickly as possible to alleviate the pain or fear which accompanies our ailments. Further, we naturally trust our physicians to be the experts. When they recommend a course of treatment, it’s natural to assume that the cost is irrelevant.

Regardless of the reason we shy away from inquiring about cost, it stands to reason that a patient in pursuit of actual pricing for medical treatment should be able to obtain that information in advance. Frustratingly, that is rarely the case. The American healthcare system functions on the predication of a lack of transparency. It’s purposely complex. As more and more Americans begin to scrutinize their own healthcare in the face of rising insurance premiums and the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) the cries for greater transparency are getting louder.

Healthcare transparency provides consumers with the information and the incentive to choose healthcare providers based on value. Value is not just about price; but rather price and quality. Providing reliable cost and quality information empowers consumer choice. Consumer choice creates incentives at all levels, and motivates the entire system to provide better care for less money. We already see this working in certain areas in our healthcare system, i.e. LASIK, cosmetic surgery, etc. These areas are driven to be valuable as consumers demand great quality for a reasonable price.

True free market healthcare is consumer-driven. We are taught that valuable healthcare has to be expensive and that the highest quality will cost more. But when it comes to health services, the opposite is usually true, the quality of healthcare is not related to the price in the way we are used to.

In reality – the vast majority of the time better quality care is almost always at a LOWER price. A recent study indicated that if everyone in the U.S. got their care from the Mayo clinic, health costs would sharply decline. Mayo has excellent quality care, but their prices are far less than the competition.

The Kempton Group is continually seeking out like-minded providers who are innovators, and that want to apply transparent, free market principles to employer sponsored health benefit plans. Through the Kempton Premier Provider™™ program, we reduced claims costs by nearly $3 million in less than two years for non-emergency procedures while simultaneously reducing patient out-of-pocket-expenses.

The proof that free-market, transparent healthcare works is proven by looking at the dollars saved. Healthcare services can and should be viewed just like any other purchase we make—based on VALUE, which includes both quality AND price. Whether you are a business owner providing healthcare benefits to your employees or a consumer concerned about the rising cost of healthcare in America, only your persistent demand for transparent pricing from providers will revive a true free market healthcare system.