Pricing Transparency Debate

There’s some debate on the usefulness of pricing transparency (as it stands) in health care here here and here at the Health Care for All Healthy Blog.

Here’s the gist of the discussion at HCFA:

Of course, we’re not so neutral in this discussion. Paul’s [Levy, health care CEO who blogs] worried about accuracy and validity. Charlie’s [Baker, health care CEO who blogs] view is let’s get this started, and make improvements along the way. Our concern, which we wrote about two days earlier (with two interesting comments added), is whether this is really worth it. Our point, that price transparency may not be too useful, and could lead to price increases, was picked up by this week’s lead Modern Healthcare article.

I understand all sides.

Creating measures that are accurate and valid is vitally important to develop a reliable comparison tool that we can all agree upon and create together.

On the other hand, health care moves incredibly slowly—and if we wait until the data used is agreeable to all parties involved, comparisons may be impossible until mid-century.

The misplaced incentives of health care financing make for creative pricing strategies.  The risk that prices could rise from transparent data is real.

But in the end, if consumerism is to truly take over health care decision making, complete transparency must become the norm: knowing the cost of care is an important component of the revolution.

Transparency is transparency is transparency. But only if its truly transparent.

One thought on “Pricing Transparency Debate

  1. The healthcare industry has been talking about transparency for a long time and very little progress has been made towards offering consumers meaningful tools to help consumers make informed choices regarding the price and quality of services and helping them find the best value.

    Insurance plans and providers have a difficult time addressing this issue and solving this complicated problem. Why not let consumers collaborate to share/post prices they paid for actual health care services? A platform already exists for collecting and sharing called, to help consumers find out what other consumers paid for similar health care services, including if they paid cash or used an insurance plan. Until the industry comes up with a better solution, can help consumers look up prices for routine health care services. Interestingly, if enough consumers participate, this could become a very powerful force to expose “true” health care prices throughout the industry.

    I welcome all comments on this grass-roots price transparency initiative.

    Mona Lori


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