Mar 28, 2014 - 3:15pm

Most States Flunk on Health Care Price Transparency

Senior Editor, Digital Content


Map: Report card on state health care price transparency laws, 2014
Source: Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and Catalyst for Payment Reform.

Finding health care pricing and quality information is hard. You can’t Google the price of a medical procedure and find a useful answer. A report finds that state governments aren’t helping.

Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute released their Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws, looking at state laws and regulations on health care transparency and state-mandated websites for collecting price data.

Only five states received a passing grade.

Francois de Brantes of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and Suzanne Delbanco, Executive Director of Catalyst for Payment Reform laid much of the blame on website problems:

Some states have robust price transparency laws and regulations, requiring them to create a publicly available website with price information based on real paid claims information; but in reality, the public can’t readily access that information because the website is poorly designed, or poorly functioning. Given that so many state-mandated websites are inadequate, once we included websites into our review and grading, no state received an “A” in this year’s Report Card.

On Monday, expounding on the recommendations in last year’s four-part report in improving the health care systemthe U.S. Chamber Health Care Solutions Council discussed the need for making meaningful health care information more easily available.

The private sector is playing a crucial role. Companies like Boeing and Dow are leading the way within their organizations. In addition, startups, like Procured Health, are developing price transparency tools:

On the Procured Health system, doctors can leave detailed feedback and recommendations about medical devices. Before making a purchasing decision, hospital admins can use the software to pull up a variety of products, which range in quality and price.

The lack of easily available price and quality information keeps consumers and employers in the dark on costs and prevents both from being smarter shoppers of health care. It is a valuable tool in containing rising health costs. State governments have to do a lot more on their end to improve transparency.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute discussed the report card on Fox Business.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.