Do you have any idea how much your medical care costs? If you are like most Americans, you probably don’t. You may have a copay for visits to the doctor, but big payments tend to be worked out between the doctor’s office and your health insurance, and most likely it really doesn’t matter to you personally how much your care actually costs.

That’s been my experience for the most part, though the process of go back and forth living overseas has given me a close up of some medical costs that most Americans may not see.

When I was living in Austria, I went back to the U.S. to have my third child. Because of how our insurance was handled, some bills went to me rather than through the insurance company. One bill I remember in particular was for my epidural. The charge  was about $800, and I ended up having to pay about $450 of out-of-pocket for that epidural.

Many women might think that’s a bargain. Epidurals take away the worst pain of the delivery process, so that rather than experiencing your child’s birth in a blur of pain, you can focus on the wonderful fact of having your baby enter the world.

But I’ve had natural child birth before, and while it was excruciatingly painful to be sure, I survived it and know that there are benefits to going without an epidural too. The epidural I had with baby number three caused some complications. My son’s heartbeat slowed and I had some blood pressure issues, which almost led to me having to have a c-section.

It all worked out fine, but looking back, it’s interesting for me to consider if I had known about the cost of the epidural, if I would have instead chosen to gut it out, rather than opt for the complication-causing pain relief.

I thought of this as I read this article in the Wall Street Journal this morning on how insurers are finding ways to rationalize the payment system, and make costs more transparent, so that price is once again a factor in determining what insurance policies to buy and what doctors and treatments to choose. ObamaCare, unsurprisingly, would combat this process, and replace price considerations with fiats from government.

That’s more than a shame—it will lead to higher health care costs for the whole country, and more inefficient care.

Some may recoil from the idea of price playing a role in determining medical treatment, but it is essential that we re-embrace this basic concept.   Americans should be aware of how much treatment costs and have reason to not always just opt for the most high-end option. Rationing will come one way or another and Americans will be far better off if they are in charge of the decisions they make, while taking into account factors such as price, rather than turning all decisions over to Washington.