Author Affiliations: Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine (Mr Steinmetz and Dr Emanuel), and Department of Health Care Management, Wharton School (Dr Emanuel), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
In the 1950s, the American automobile industry was rife with information asymmetries, leaving prospective buyers at the mercy of the dealer. Rarely would a buyer know the full price of a new car until after he or she had committed to buying it. Rarer still would that buyer know anything about the quality of the vehicle he or she had decided to purchase. And while every new Ford and Chevy came with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), and various quality and safety metrics, none of that information was required to be disclosed prior to a sale. Exorbitant shipping charges and phony “preparation fees” were frequently tacked on without the buyer's knowledge. Price disparities from dealer to dealer were exceedingly vast. The result in the mid-20th century was a broken automobile industry that stuck American families with unnecessarily high bills.1,2
Steinmetz A, Emanuel EJ. What Does a Hip Replacement Cost?The Transparency Imperative in 2013Comment on “Obtaining Consumer Prices From US Hospitals for a Common Surgical Procedure”. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(6):432-434. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.465