As health care costs continue to rise, consumers are increasingly being required to take on a growing share. To underscore that point, the most recent survey by Mercer shows that close to two-thirds of all large employers offer a high deductible/high co-insurance health plan and that close to 20 percent of all commercially insured health plan members are enrolled in such plans. In this environment, it is only fair and logical to ensure that consumers have the necessary quality and price information to make informed decisions about where to seek health care. We have made progress sharing information about the quality of care, with organizations like Bridges to Excellence and The Leapfrog Group leading the way and federal and state governments getting in on the act. But with recent studies showing us that the price for an identical procedure within a market can vary seven-fold with no demonstrable difference in quality, price transparency is more important than ever.
While the private sector has made progress recently in making prices more available to consumers, there are still large gaps. States can play an important role in ensuring that consumers have access to both quality and price information by setting policies and implementing laws that advance transparency. The most comprehensive, consumer-friendly laws ensure ready access to information and data about a broad range of providers and services.
This Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws represents a joint effort between Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute to examine existing transparency laws in all 50 states and grade them, using well-defined criteria, on how well they support the information needs of consumers. The Methodology section of this report contains detail about these criteria.
We hope the Report Card will inform advocates, lawmakers and policy experts about today’s best practices or what constitutes a top grade and, over time, generate improvements in public policies across the nation. American consumers deserve to have as much information about the quality and price of their health care as they do about restaurants, cars, and household appliances.
Francois de Brantes, MS, MBA
Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute
Suzanne Delbanco, Ph.D.
Catalyst for Payment Reform