According to a recent national survey, 56 percent of Americans have search for price information before getting care, and 69 percent of the adults surveyed said they would find it helpful to have access to a website that displayed what different doctors charged for the care they were seeking.
A new initiative is looking to do just that.
The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems has launched an initiative seeking “price transparency,” with the focus of giving consumers pricing details before they visit a hospital for a procedure.
There are three key elements to the initiative, including proposed legislation to establish a new state-run website that would display median prices paid for procedures at hospitals. There would also be tools for hospitals to provide estimates for patients who self-pay or are out-of-network. Lastly, there is a pledge to work with insurers to help insured patients understand their out-of-pocket expenses.
“Our transparency initiative aims to assist Oregonians in understanding hospital prices in advance of procedures,” said Andy Davidson, president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “We want to make sure that hospitals’ pricing data is accessible and easy to find. We know that our patients want more health care pricing information and with this initiative, Oregonians will be able to find the data on hospital prices that will help their decision making.”
While the website would give patients the ability to understand what the typical costs are for certain procedures and to price shop, it won’t show them what their insurer would or would not cover. It would also not tell consumers what their out-of-pocket expense would be.
So, a second element to the initiative entails working with insurers through the Oregon Health Leadership Council (OHLC) to help patients with insurance understand what expenses will be out-of-pocket.
The third element of the initiative is to get a commitment from Oregon hospitals to help patients who are paying fully for their own medical costs or for out-of-network services get a good faith estimate for a scheduled procedure upon request.
Knowing the cost of your care prior to the care seems only logical. There are few, if any, other examples in our lives where we don’t know the cost of something before we sign off on it. This could be a start towards improving competition and lowering medical costs.