What the President’s Executive Order Means for Price Transparency in Healthcare

Executive Order on Healthcare Transparency

President Trump recently issued an Executive Order, Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Health to Put Patients First, which focuses on price transparency by requiring out-of-pocket costs to be listed by hospitals and other providers. Additionally, it outlines certain actions regulators must take (within designated time frames) to reexamine how existing laws are being applied.

What is an Executive Order?

An Executive Order is issued by the President of the United States and directs the federal government to review how it manages operations and enforces a law. While an Act of Congress is needed to change the laws itself, an Executive Order seeks to reexamine how an existing law is interpreted and enforced. In addition, it sets specific timelines to complete an updated assessment of the law.

What is covered in Improving Price and Quality Transparency?

The timeline of the main objectives and what they mean for the future of price transparency in healthcare are below:

Within 60 days
  • Hospitals must provide a list of standard charge information for services, supplies and fees billed. The list can either be posted in a public area or a hospital employee can provide the information.
  • Hospitals must also develop a system to update the list regularly. Otherwise, they risk not being compliant with the executive order.
Within 90 days

Healthcare providers, insurance providers, and self-insured group health plans will be asked to comment on how the system is working.

Within 120 days

The Treasury will issue guidance regarding what low-cost preventative care is covered before the deductible is met and still remains HSA compatible. The desired outcome is for medical care that helps maintain the health status of individuals with chronic conditions will be covered.

Within 180 days

Department of Treasury must propose regulations addressing two keys areas:

  1. Allowing certain types of arrangements (such as concierge medicine) to be treated as qualified medical expenses and make them eligible for reimbursement from an FSA, HRA or HSA.
  2. Additionally, the Executive Order seeks guidance that would increase the amount that can be carried over in an FSA.

So, where does that leave us?

Stay tuned. An Executive Order is often just a first step to put wheels in motion. Additional guidance is needed before changes occur. Changes (or at least guidance) is still roughly 120 to 180 days away.