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Get Ready for Price Transparency

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, November 30, 2012

The healthcare industry convention of price opacity came under fire just before Thanksgiving, when the business-and-labor-backed Catalyst for Payment Reform issued what a "call to action" aimed at health plans and providers, asking them to "make healthcare price information more readily available to their employees and consumers."

That's right: a coalition of healthcare purchasers from both business and labor is calling for reform, starting with price transparency. Here's betting they'll get it—eventually. When these historically antagonistic groups unite in a cause, you know you've got a tough fight on your hands.

Several large employers, such as Boeing, Dow Chemical, and Wal-Mart, have joined the AFL-CIO, AARP, and other groups to trumpet this unified message. Last I checked, unions were picketing Wal-Mart on Black Friday, so even though these groups differ on big issues, this is one under which they can unite.

Many healthcare providers prevent health plans from sharing information (and health plans are complicit in this too) about the prices the health plan pays that organization for certain services. At one time, that might have made actual sense.

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2 comments on "Get Ready for Price Transparency"


Sara McFarland (12/3/2012 at 10:57 AM)
We agree wholeheartedly that transparency is necessary and it is not on the horizon anymore, it is already here. Patients need to know where they can go for transparency and get accurate pricing and quality grades, personalized to their needs. This is why we created our site, to remove the guess work and time wasted calling around to practices on the search for pricing. Additionally, even if a patient does get a quote over the phone, who is to say that is the price they will end up paying? We've removed that shadow of doubt with online payments and scheduling all online like Hotels.com. It's the future of health care and the bright side? Providers ARE buying into this. When they see the writing on the wall, they will fall in line because they will see that it is beneficial to them as well to be futuristic when it comes to their practice.

Dan Prince (11/30/2012 at 4:09 PM)
If we ever truly want "consumer-driven" healthcare, having transparent quality AND pricing information is imperative!