Given the huge push for hospital pricing transparency -- and its potential to drive hospital prices down -- health care investors might want to avoid hospital companies and instead focus on the insurers who pay for their services. In recent weeks, government demands for hospital pricing transparency have escalated, exploding into full-blown congressional hearings on Wednesday. Quite simply, government leaders say, hospitals should be required to disclose their prices just like other companies that wish to sell their products to consumers. Hospitals have resisted such calls, going so far as to suggest that their prices -- deeply discounted for most payers -- don't matter very much, anyway. But those arguments have lost some power in recent years. For one thing, hospital giant Tenet ( THC) has already shown that high list prices can in fact translate into outsize payments from Medicare. For another, new "affordable" health plans have left consumers picking up more of their health care tab but -- so far -- without the pricing information they need to effectively shop for their services. Sheryl Skolnick, a veteran health care analyst at CRT Capital, sees major changes on the horizon. "It's inevitable," Skolnick told TheStreet.com on Wednesday. "Hospitals are going to have to tell us how much they are charging. ... I'm very concerned about the hospital group in general, for all of the obvious reasons." Skolnick lists a number of risks that could worsen with so-called consumerism -- including falling volumes and rising bad-debt expense -- when explaining her stand. She mentions the strong possibility for Medicare cuts, beginning in 2007, as well. At the same time, Skolnick believes that strongly positioned health insurers could fare well in the changing environment. She favors UnitedHealth ( UNH) the most, saying that the company has made "very, very significant investments" in consumer-friendly offerings. She also shoots down recent arguments from a competing analyst who has suggested that UnitedHealth's long rally could soon come to an end.