While the high cost of health care is a national issue, it is a particularly dire problem in Texas.
A recent Johns Hopkins study found that Texas has the highest health care markup ratio in the country. The markup ratio is what a hospital charges compared to Medicare’s “allowable amount,” the rate that the federal government determines a health care service is worth. Texas health care prices were on average 6.4 times higher than the allowable amount.
Brownsville-Harlingen, Laredo, and El Paso had the highest ratios.
In an interview with the Texas Standard, Dr. Marty Makary, one of the researchers behind the study, said the “sticker prices of a lot of Texas hospitals are the highest in the country. “When we look at those actual prices, we don’t know what they mean.”
Makary was critical of the lack of transparency in health care pricing. “The price gouging and predatory billing today is threatening the great public trust in the medical profession,” he warned.
To solve the issue, Makary called for hospitals to have more transparent pricing and for consumers to negotiate prices, something he noted that most patients don’t realize they can do, and look for better deals when possible. “We have to enable proxy shoppers to do their work to keep markets in check,” he said. “They want to know what the discount is of the other place, they want to see what the real prices are to shop on your behalf.”
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