Legislation Introduced to Make Sure Consumers Get to See Healthcare Prices up Front

A bill introduced in the Oregon Senate on March 3, 2015, would require Oregon healthcare facilities to post their prices and provide real-time price estimates for consumers on request. MORE >

The legislation would empower consumers to take personal responsibility for their own healthcare costs by improving access to healthcare prices.

Medical prices are often hidden until patients receive a bill, and many bills contain extra charges and surprise fees. Senate Bill 891 addresses these problems by requiring Oregon healthcare facilities to post their prices publicly, both at the facility and online, and to provide real-time price estimates for consumers on request.

“With Oregonians picking up an ever-greater portion of their own healthcare costs in the form of higher deductibles and coinsurance, it’s more important than ever for consumers to know the price of healthcare up front,” said OSPIRG Healthcare Advocate Jesse O’Brien. “We all know that healthcare still costs too much. The least we can do is make sure healthcare facilities post their prices, like any other business.”

Research shows that a lack of public information on the price and quality of healthcare services hampers competition and contributes to excessive spending by consumers, insurers, taxpayers, employers and other payers. The Institute of Medicine estimates that inflated prices due to lack of competition and excessive price variation cause $105 billion in waste in healthcare spending each year. 

SB 891 will start addressing these problems by doing the following:

  • Requiring healthcare facilities to post their prices publicly, both online and in a physical location at the facility, for the top 100 inpatient and outpatient procedures. Since prices for healthcare services can vary depending on a patient’s health coverage, SB 891 requires facilities to post a list of all of their prices for the top insurers and public programs in Oregon.
  • Requiring healthcare facilities to provide price estimates in real time upon request, including an estimate of any additional fees that may not be included in the posted price, such as out-of-network fees.

As a physician, I think my patients deserve to know the price for healthcare services so they can be empowered to make better-informed decisions,” said Senator Steiner Hayward. “Senate Bill 891 will strengthen the doctor-patient relationship by enabling physicians to start a dialog with patients about value in healthcare.”

Senate Bill 891 is about personal responsibility,” said Senator Boquist. “If we want Oregonians to have the tools they need to take charge of their own healthcare, we must take action to make sure consumers can access accurate, actionable information about healthcare prices.”

For more information about SB 891, check OSPIRG’s fact sheet, available at http://bit.ly/1wRNBMF