Ordinance for Healthcare Cost Transparency Urged by Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce
December 04, 2017
The letter states that healthcare consumers, especially those with high-deductible plans, are increasingly seeking more information about the cost of health care procedures in the Ketchikan area.
Quoting the letter, "The Chamber believes that timely, transparent disclosure of healthcare costs is essential to protecting the interests of consumers, and allowing markets to function efficiently." According to the letters signed by Chelsea Goucher, President of the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce, healthcare is currently the only industry in which consumers receive a service without being able to understand the price in advance.
Goucher wrote on behalf of the Chamber that many residents of the Ketchikan community have reported difficulties in obtaining information about the costs of healthcare services in a timely and predictable manner creating consumer frustration, uncertainty, billing disputes, and an increased tendency t6o seek medical services outside of the Ketchikan area -- none of which are in the best interest of local practitioners.
The Chamber's letter expressed support for the Municipality of Anchorage's Ordinance 2017-26 (as Amended) that taken a proactive approach to mitigate these issues by adopting an ordinance which requires healthcare practitioners to estimate charges upon request in a reasonable and timely manner.
The Anchorage Municipal Ordinance AO 2017-26 requires health care practitioners and facilities in Anchorage to provide cost estimates to patients who request such information. Upon request by a patient, and within 10 business days from receiving the request, AO 2017-26 requires health care practitioners and facilities, to provide a written or electronic estimate of reasonably anticipated health care charges to treat the patient’s condition when receiving nonemergency medical services. In addition, the ordinance requires health care practitioners and facilities to post a sign in patient waiting areas with specific language regarding requesting cost estimates. This ordinance does not require providers to publish price lists, or to determine their most commonly ordered services or procedures. However, if a State law is passed that requires this, then practitioners must comply with both State and Municipal laws. The ordinance does not apply to emergency services, and does not prohibit actual charges from differing from the estimate.
"The Chamber appreciates that some practitioners in the Ketchikan area may be willing to voluntarily improve their billing practices, the Chamber believes that is none-the-less in the best interest of the Ketchikan community's residents to adopt an ordinance mirroring Anchorage's. which treats all practitioners equally, and requires all practitioners to follow the same set of predictable, reliable guidelines," states the letter.
The Ketchikan Chamber says adopting an Ordinance similar to Anchorage's will create better market conditions for consumers, will increase consumer satisfaction, and will help mitigate the increasing trend of "medical tourism" to access services in other locations.
The November 28th letter stated that the Chamber believes the Anchorage Ordinance's requirements are reasonable and can be easily met by any reputable practitioner. The Anchorage ordinance has been implemented successfully, and is being adhered to by a wide range of service provides, both large and small. The Chamber stated they believe a similar healthcare transparency ordinance will support community livability and resident satisfaction, helping to make Ketchikan a more attractive place to live, work, and do business.
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Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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