Some pharmaceutical TV marketers may be irked when it comes to disclosing drug pricing in TV commercials. But for consumers, this is good news. Is more pricing to come?
This summer, some TV marketers have been required in TV commercials to disclose list prices of prescription drugs covered by Medicare or Medicaid -- all to drive down drug pricing.
But why stop there?
Health-insurance providers' TV commercials don't tell you much when it comes to how much you might pay for a monthly premium. They may note that with too many plans to disclose, one would need to go to their websites for further information. Fair enough.
But it gets worse from there.
Does any health-insurance company talk about out-of-pocket costs for, say, Lasik surgery, a colonoscopy, or perhaps a heart valve replacement? It's no secret that trying to get a price for a hospital or other medical office procedure is extremely difficult.
Not TV advertising-grabbing material, you say? Sure. For the record, some estimates: Lasik, $2,000 per eye; colonoscopy, $2,100 to $3,764; and heart-valve replacement, a nice $164,000 -- the last two procedures are for those with no insurance, according to health.costhelper.com.
Still, given high deductibles these days, and growing health-insurance monthly premiums, consumers want to know what they are really buying.
A growing number of health-care consumers need this information -- as well as what part they might be responsible for, depending on their health plans and deductibles.
You want my business? You, the health-care insurance provider, should explain a lot more. Tell me in a TV commercial that a heart-valve replacement costs $140,000 and what my responsibility would be.
Currently, 25% of U.S. citizens struggle with medical bills. What if this grows to 40% or 50% in a few years?
Many people who are opposed to a "Medicare for all" plan, or an expansion of Obamacare, believe the health business -- like all other businesses -- should be able to proceed in a purely free-market basis.
But health care is not an option. Everyone will need it sometime, perhaps when they don't expect it. Not so free.
Buying a car? That's an option. Purchasing a house? Also a choice.
Virtually all of the globe's top industrial economies have a wide-ranging public-supported medical system for all in place -- except the U.S.
U.S. News and World Report says the U.S. ranks in 19th place out of top countries when it comes to the best public health-care systems.
Just like drug prices, perhaps eye-opening dollar numbers for medical procedures on highly visible TV commercials would prompt consumers, health-insurance companies and health-care providers to take action.
In the media/advertising business -- TV, digital and otherwise -- a free market seems to work best with transparency. For healthcare stuff, call this consumer transparency.