Health Insurance Pricing Transparency Could Save $36B Annually

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 29, 2012

About $36 billion could be shaved off the nation's healthcare tab each year if the cost for 300 common procedures covered under employer-based insurance plans were reduced to their median prices, according to research from Thomson Reuters Healthcare.

The study, Save $36 Billion in U.S. Healthcare Spending Through Pricing Transparency, says cost savings initiatives should include benefit designs that incentivize healthcare consumers to make cost-conscious decisions about their care.

To do so, however, those healthcare consumers would need ready access to provider-specific price and quality information, including summaries of costs associated with the care, such as ancillary and hospital fees, and potential out-of-pocket expenses, the report says. Right now, that ready access does not exist.

"Increasingly the cost of healthcare is shared more significantly by the consumer," Raymond Fabius, MD, CFO of Thomson Reuters Healthcare, Inc., told HealthLeaders Media.

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"One of the reasons why it is so important to promote the concept of transparency, both in terms of cost and outcomes, is so that people can engage in a much more sophisticated decision-making process between not only 'should I do this or not', but also 'with whom should I do it,'" he says.


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