Massachusetts has just become a leader in health care reform—and it has nothing to do with Romneycare. The state has just unveiled an unprecedented price transparency tool that allows anyone with private insurance to search the website of his or her insurer for prices of medical procedures in advance of treatment. This is the fruit of a 2012 law requiring insurers and providers to make their prices public, and is light years past where most states are on this issue. (In a recent nationwide survey on price transparency, 44 U.S. states received an “F”.) Kaiser Health News has more:
Patients can finally have a sense of how much a test or procedure will cost in advance. They can see that some doctors and hospitals are a lot more expensive than others. For me, a bone density test would cost $190 at Harvard Vanguard and $445 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The most frequent early users of the newly disclosed data are probably providers. Anthony says some of the more expensive physicians and hospitals react with, “I don’t want to be the highest priced provider on your website. I thought I was lower than my competitors.” […]
If it spurs providers to compete, this measure is already more than worth it. The story also notes that this information will become even more critical as high-deductible plans become more common. Under those plans, which more employers have been offering lately, consumers pay for a larger share of their health care costs. When given options, people with high deductibles or other cost-sharing requirements economize, as studies have repeatedly shown. Kudos to Massachusetts. We hope other states will follow its example.