It's common that patients won't know the price of medical care until long after they've had a service or bought a new device or medicine. Minnesota's new price transparency law, passed in 2018, is a good start. Here we'll discuss the new law, and then one that would be better - if enough people demanded it.
In 2018, by a vote of 65-2 in the State Senate and 126-0 in the State House, the Minnesota legislature passed changes to Sec. 62J.81 and added Sec. 62J.812. The first part of this law gives you the right to receive a Good Faith Estimate for any medical care, product, or device you want to access. The law requires your medical provider and/or your insurance company to give you this information. But you have to ask for it!
The second part (62J.812) requires a primary care provider or clinic that specializes in family medicine, general internal medicine, gynecology, or general pediatrics to post their prices on the wall in their waiting room and on their website. The requirement includes their Top 25 services above $50 and their Top 10 preventive services. The price must include their billed rate (retail), the doctor's average reimbursements from commercial health plans, the Medicare and Medicaid allowable rates. This provision is effective on July 1, 2019.
To really understand how much you pay for medical care, you need to be able to see all the prices. Not just from primary care doctors, but from everyone. And you should not have to ask for it - the medical professionals should make it available to you without asking. It should be in a way that you can understand, and which you can compare with other medical professionals.
The transparent prices should be compared to a common reference price. We discuss this on the MEEDAH website here.
Big Medicine does not want you to know the price of medical care. They earn a lot of money by keeping it complicated and secret. You will have to contact your legislator to urge her or him to require more transparency.