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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 6, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Health-care prices: Real costs are tied to the rate of reimbursement

The solution to transparency in health-care pricing would be solved in totality if the insurance companies were required to publish their “negotiated” rates to all providers [“State should follow Everett Clinic’s lead and create transparency in health-care prices,” Opinion, Nov. 3].  Without that information, institutional and office pricing rates are of limited value.

Of course, Premera Blue Cross opposed HB 2572, possibly the first step in leading to that requirement. The insurance industry has successfully lobbied in Washington state in preventing the Office of Insurance Commissioner from being able to evaluate cash reserves (which are in the billions) of their companies when accepting or rejecting annual premium rate changes.

The focus should be on reducing health-care costs, yet Premera has taken an active role in increasing costs to consumers. Their action of reducing by 15 percent the previous negotiated rate for office visits to employed independent primary care nurse practitioner providers in our state has forced practices out of business or to sell out to large hospital organizations.

Beside reducing access to care, Premera has now ensured the consumer will pay a facility fee (often double to triple the office visit costs). Yes, the consumer can benefit from seeing the billed costs for health-care, but their real costs are tied to the rate of reimbursement.

Linda van Hoff, Redmond

Comments | More in Health care | Topics: health care, insurance, Linda van Hoff

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