New year, new price transparency

January 1 marks the first day US hospitals must comply with the Inpatient Prospective Payment System rule to post the price for each individually offered service on their websites. Advocates for price transparency are pretty happy, but providers aren’t—92% of them are concerned about the new policy. After all, list prices aren’t out-of-pocket prices. Providers are also concerned about other initiatives in 2019, including the International Pricing Index proposed by the White House to bring American drug costs in line with other developed nations. Another policy to watch is the proposal to include prescription drug costs in DTC TV ads. Drugmakers have a lot to spend on ads considering they spent $3.7B on them in 2018, so maybe that change won’t be too hard to make monetarily-speaking. Speaking of drug pricing, here’s 2018’s most expensive retail pharmacy drugs.

1. Forecast calls for scattered drug hoarding

Providing notice of drug price increases sounds reasonable, right? “Not so simple,” say opponents of proposed California drug pricing legislation that calls for a 60-day notice of price increases.  Opponents of the bill contend this could hang small pharmacies out to dry as larger pharmacies might be motivated to hoard drugs to avoid the higher prices to come. This could leave areas with fewer hospitals and pharmacies in danger of not being able to obtain drugs for patients with chronic illnesses. The bill could set a precedent in a movement to open up transparency across the health care system. But it could also lead to some nasty unintended consequences. Ugh.  Healthcare is hard.