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Most States Fail To Make The Grade In Health Care Price Transparency For Consumers

WASHINGTON and SAN FRANCISCO, March 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws developed by two non-profits – Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI 3) – aims to improve the information available to consumers about prices for health care services and encourage further effort in this area. The Report Card takes a comprehensive look at state laws designed to give consumers basic information about the average or expected prices of common health care services and gives only 14 states a "C" or better.

Only two states ( Massachusetts and New Hampshire) received an "A" for having met several criteria, including: sharing information about the price of services for both inpatient and outpatient services; sharing price information for both doctors and hospitals; sharing data on a public website and in public reports; and allowing patients to request information prior to a hospital admission. Seventy-two percent of the nation (36 states) met few if any of these criteria and received a "D" or an "F."

"Health care costs continue to rise and consumers are increasingly being required to take on a growing share of those costs," said Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of CPR, a non-profit employer coalition who co-sponsored the Report Card. "In this environment, it is only fair and logical to ensure that consumers have the information they need about quality and cost to make informed decisions about where to seek care. There is definitely a role for public policy and state legislation to support these efforts."

Francois de Brantes, executive director of HCI 3 and report card co-sponsor concurred, adding "We know from studies that the price for an identical health care procedure performed in the same city can vary by as much as 700 percent, with no difference in quality. When consumers shop for value, they can help rein in health care costs; but to do this, they first need timely and actionable price information."

The majority of states have very basic laws requiring average charges to be made public, but charges do not reflect what consumers, employers, and health plans actually end up paying for care. In many cases, the information is only available upon request, placing a considerable burden on the consumer.

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