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High healthcare spending is widely recognized as one of the most pressing challenges facing the U.S. today. Experts have argued that healthcare price transparency could be a powerful tool for reducing prices by leveraging competition to reduce excess prices and allow a better focus on quality.
In practice, providing consumers with this type of information is more difficult than it appears. New research identifies less than 10% of all health spending is both out-of-pocket and “shoppable,” suggesting there are significant limits on the degree to which consumers can influence overall health system spending, even if they had access to thorough, accurate information on price and quality.
Nonetheless, expanding healthcare pricing transparency is an initiative that legislators and regulators around the country are eager to explore. And there’s good reason to do so—transparency has many audiences.
UCSF Center for Healthcare Value
Healthcare for All Massachusetts (HCFA)
Healthcare Value Hub
HCFA: Consumer Cost Transparency Report Card (More info on the report card.) As part of Chapter 224, a major cost-containment law passed in August 2012, physician practices and hospitals have just two working days to respond to patient requests for cost information.
Pioneer Institute: Massachusetts Hospitals Weak on Price Transparency. Not only were few hospitals able to comply with the law as it is written, but staffs at many had no idea how to handle a price request.
Proposed Massachusetts Legislation: Prescription Drug Cost Transparency (S1048)
Prescription drug prices continue to rise, increasing the cost of health insurance and slamming families, as well as the state’s budget. The Bill will open the window so the public can learn what drugs really cost to manufacture, how much people in other countries pay, and the actual research costs for our most expensive drugs. Then, based on the data, it empowers the independent Health Policy Commission to set maximum drug prices if it finds egregious examples of unfair price gouging in our prescriptions. (Related, from HCFA's A Healthy Blog: Watch the video that pharma does not want you to see.)