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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration argues its new price transparency rules will help patients shop for cheaper care and encourage insurers to make such shopping attractive.

Yes, but: Research shows most patients don't shop for care, even when tools exist to make it easier.

Driving the news: The administration proposed two price transparency regulations last week.

  • One finalized the requirement that hospitals disclose their negotiated prices.
  • The other proposed requiring insurers to do the same. It also would require insurers to make out-of-pocket spending information available to patients, which HHS says "would empower consumers to shop and compare costs between specific providers before receiving care."

The problem: Most patients haven't used cost-comparison tools when they've been made available in the past.

  • "It’s pretty difficult to get consumers to engage with price information and make decisions based on price information," said Sunita Desai, a professor at New York University.
  • These tools also don't lead to lower health spending, studies show.

The exception: Price transparency is more effective when paired with extra incentives to shop around — which the Trump administration addresses.

  • The proposed rule would allow insurers to count the savings generated by price shopping toward their medical loss ratio.
  • This could nudge plans to create new incentives for enrollees, although this is only one of the reasons why insurers may have limited incentives to get patients to price shop.

None of this matters much in places where providers have monopolies, as patients don't have any choice about where they get their care and thus can't shop around.

The bottom line: "The norms around how we get health care — how we use the internet to make health care-related decisions — [have] been changing," Desai said.

  • "It’s possible that having this information out there could over time start to change the way people make decisions.”

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
39 mins ago - World

Airbnb doubles number of Afghan refugees it will house to 40,000

Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in August 2021. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia said during a visit to Washington on Wednesday that they're offering temporary housing to 40,000 Afghan refugees worldwide, doubling a previous commitment.

The big picture: The housing typically lasts several weeks, and Airbnb and Airbnb.org provide subsidies to hosts.

Florida lawmaker introduces abortion bill modeled after Texas law

A view of the old Florida Capitol building, which sits in front of the current new Capitol building, in Tallahassee. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday modeled after Texas' new law prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Similar bills introduced to the Florida legislature have failed, but that was before the Supreme Court declined to block Texas' law, which is the most restrictive abortion law to be enforced since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, according to AP.

Tech firms' nightmare: Vanishing green cards

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Thousands of green cards are about to go to waste, leaving Google, Microsoft and other tech companies fuming — and pushing the Biden administration to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Why it matters: Tech workers have waited years for green cards that will grant them permanent legal status in the U.S. — but because of pandemic-related processing delays, they will have to wait even longer.