Costs are unsustainable in many cases with medical coding and billing, a subject that has been on the minds of individuals for several decades. However, it appears that several legislative initiatives and changes within the U.S. health care system could make costs more manageable for practices, physicians and patients.

Obamacare changes the game
According to an April 2014 piece in the Guardian, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) isn't just causing Americans to spend more money on health care coverage, it's giving the entire U.S. economy a substantial amount of monetary growth.

"Obamacare is boosting consumption," Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said to the Guardian. "If healthcare spending had been unchanged, the headline GDP growth number would have been -1.0 [percent]."

Shepherdson went on to explain that these percentage inclines have been gradual – but the original rollout of Obamacare last fall changed a lot of aspects in the industry's operational scheme with more patient insurance verification. In fact, based on Shepherdson's research, doctor and hospital spending now boast expenditures that are double their size compared to pre-Obamacare rates, revealing a staggering demand within the health care industry.

Growing pains
Of course, changes in health care reform such as the ACA don't come without their own set of challenges. Although many Americans have signed up for health care and are now seeing their doctors for the first time in years, a number of the exchanges associated with the ACA require deductibles, some of which can be quite steep in terms of cost. Since the economy is still struggling to ease out of the recession, medical billing issues are of the utmost concern for practices and patients alike.

A way to bridge the spending gap
However, a new report compiled by the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center reveals that there may be a way that Americans can work to keep costs down: price transparency. You've likely heard this being discussed during the debate over Obamacare in the past few years, and rightly so. While health care price transparency is generally thought of as a way for patients to fully understand their out-of-pocket expenses, the research suggests that transparency can be even more wide-reaching in terms of physician billing services.

"We've found that providing price information to three key stakeholders – physicians, employers and policymakers – may have a far greater impact. And we have identified a range of new policy proposals, including three that, if implemented, could save $100 billion over 10 years." Dr. Joseph Smith, the chairman of the West Health Policy Center Board of Directors, said in a news release.

The report titled "Healthcare Price Transparency: Policy Approaches and Estimated Impacts on Spending" highlighted three major ways that this plan could work:

  • Reporting hospital pricing by using state all-payer health claims databases
  • Using electronic medical billing when ordering diagnostic testing supplies in accordance with health record systems
  • Having personalized out-of-pocket expense data for new enrollees once patients sign up for private health coverage

Although the ACA ensures that millions more Americans will have access to health care coverage, whether or not this landmark legislation reduces health care spending in the long run remains to be seen. However, reports such as this give hope that price transparency can and should be done for practices and patients.