Price transparency efforts shouldn't focus on patients. They should target doctors and policymakers.
Saving $100 billion over a decade won't transform health care
The authors are careful to note that their strategies aren't sufficient to overhaul the American health care system. Price transparency may be necessary to enable other big-impact reforms — like changing the way we pay for care — but alone, transparency won't have a huge impact.
To state the obvious, $100 billion dollars is a lot of money. Health care puts spending on a different scale, though: over ten years, $100 billion is a tiny sliver of projected health spending — we're talking about a fraction of one percent.
That doesn't mean these reforms aren't worthwhile, but we do need to be realistic about the impact they'll have.
There can be downsides to more transparency
There's a paradoxical effect when you pair price transparency with the way we currently fund health insurance: because patients usually pay a fixed amount and their insurance picks up the rest of the tab, people will often opt for whatever's more expensive, assuming that price is determined by quality. In this way, transparency could actually drive up spending if we don't pair price information with data on quality.