Maryland Health Commission Uses Promotional T-shirts to Battle High Health Care Costs
Would we go walking around town in promotional T-shirts that read "Hip Replacement $30,779?" Probably not, because we have a hard time deviating from our "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" T-shirt lineup. But in the case of Maryland's new promotional tees, we could be swayed.
According to ABC news, Maryland Health Care Commission officials are looking for a new way to promote transparency for health care costs, and they are utilizing the power of the T-shirt. On the wearthecost.org website, there are several T-shirts available for purchase that display the average cost of various medical procedures. There's the $29,059 knee replacement, the $16,381 hysterectomy and more.
“We tried to focus it on a level most consumers are at,” said Ben Steffen, executive director of the Maryland Health Care Commission, which created the campaign. “It is an opportunity to wear a billboard in certain public settings” to get people to ask questions, he said.
The cost of these procedures varies from hospital to hospital, but what is important for patients to know is these costs can be a huge financial burden. The commission hopes that if patients are made aware of the different procedure costs at each hospital, then they'll be able to make an informed decision, and possibly choose the institution with the lowest cost. From there, the price transparency movement hopes that hospitals will work harder to stay competitive by lowering costs and complications, so that insurance premiums are contained, as well as government expenses.
“The hope is that, over time, consumers will come to expect that prices are available … and use them regularly in making decisions about where to get care,” said Sarah Litton of Altarum, a research and consulting firm that worked on the campaign with the Maryland commission.
So it can be concluded that the T-shirt's purpose is two-fold: inform patients and pressure hospitals to lower costs. We already know the power of a good T-shirt promotion, and we think these bold T-shirts might be a step in the right direction for health care costs. Already, the T-shirts have generated a ton of buzz on social media, so phase one certainly went well.