President Trump signed an executive order Monday requiring the cost of health care procedures to be published before patients receive the services, a sweeping overhaul of the health care industry, if implemented.
"This is a big action," Mr. Trump said, adding that people have no idea how big it is, and some people say it's an action bigger than health care itself. "This is bigger than anything we've done in this particular realm."
Mr. Trump insists the move will change the game of health care, lowering prices significantly and giving patients more power. The "lack of price transparency has enriched industry giants greatly," he said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters earlier Monday the order is aimed at making sure patients can access an explanation of their benefits ahead of a medical visit — including the cost of a procedure, the insurance-company negotiated price, and what they will pay out of pocket. As it stands, most patients only learn the actual costs weeks after when they're billed, as most people who have ever gone through any medical procedure know.
"What we're saying is you've got a right to know that information before the service," one senior administration official said on a conference call with reporters Monday morning.
It's unclear how the executive order would be enforced — it's likely to face some blowback from many insurers and hospitals.
Mr. Trump made a point of criticizing Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan.
"As we fight to increase transparency and lower costs for patients more than 120 Democrats in Congress support Bernie Sanders' socialist takeover of American healthcare. Very dangerous," the president said. "The Democrat plan would terminate private health insurance of over 180 million Americans who are happy with what they have. Under my administration, we will never let that happen. We believe in giving patients ... we believe in giving patients choice and freedom in health care."
The health care executive order comes shortly after, this time on its supreme leader and his office, over multiple Iranian actions the U.S. interprets as aggressive and dangerous. Last week, Mr. Trump ordered a cyber attack to retaliate after Iran shot down a U.S. drone.