Most states get F’s on price trans­parency

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By An­dis Robeznieks

A re­port card on health­care price trans­parency con­cludes that most states have been all talk and no ac­tion in pro­vid­ing pa­tients with in­for­ma­tion to make in­formed choices—and they’re do­ing worse than last year.

In its sec­ond an­nual re­port card on state price trans­parency, the Cat­a­lyst for Pay­ment Re­form and the Health Care In­cen­tives Im­prove­ment In­sti­tute handed out 45 F’s, three C’s and two B’s. Last year, two A’s were awarded and only 29 F’s.

Maine and Mas­sachusetts re­ceived B’s. Colorado, Ver­mont and Vir­ginia re­ceived C’s. All other states got F’s.

“Ac­cess to mean­ing­ful price in­for­ma­tion is more im­por­tant than ever, as con­sumers con­tinue to take on a ris­ing share of ex­penses,” Suzanne Del­banco, Cat­a­lyst for Pay­ment Re­form’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said in a news re­lease.

Last year, states re­ceived points just for hav­ing trans­parency laws, but this year, they also were judged on how well they im­ple­mented those laws. In 2013, New Hamp­shire got an A, in part for its law re­quir­ing price in­for­ma­tion to be pub­licly posted on­line. This year, the state was given an F be­cause its web­site is in­op­er­a­tive.

“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,” the re­port said. “But in re­al­ity, the pub­lic can’t read­ily ac­cess that in­for­ma­tion be­cause the web­site is poorly de­signed, or poorly func­tion­ing.”

States were not cred­ited for “volun- teer” web­sites op­er­ated by lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions but not au­tho­rized by statute. “While these sites can be a valu­able re­source to con­sumers, if they are not legislated, they can be short-lived, de­pen­dent on the good­will and re­sources of the or­ga­ni­za­tion that hosts them,” the re­port stated.

The scope, util­ity and ac­cu­racy of state price sites were judged to as­sess how well states were fol­low­ing their trans­parency laws.

“Amer­i­cans de­serve ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about the cost and qual­ity of health­care and we’re es­pe­cially dis­ap­pointed that pop­u­lous states … didn’t take steps to raise their fail­ing grades,” Fran­cois de Brantes, Health Care In­cen­tives Im­prove­ment In­sti­tute ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said in a re­lease.

“Ac­cess to mean­ing­ful price in­for­ma­tion is more im­por­tant than ever, as con­sumers con­tinue to take on a ris­ing share of ex­penses.”

—Suzanne Del­banco Cat­a­lyst for Pay­ment Re­form

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