5 trends in healthcare payment reform: Does price transparency help or hurt?

A new article on the Health Affairs Blog examines payment reform and transparency in healthcare.

Here are eight key notes on payment reform today:

1. While recent reports have questioned the value of price transparency — even finding it leads to higher prices because so few people are using — the Fourth Annual Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws shows informed healthcare choices can lower cost when the public has the right information.

2. There has been an increase in tools to spread price transparency in healthcare including Castlight Health and Change Healthcare tools, but access to these tools varies greatly.

3. Some states provide price transparency in healthcare, but only three states received an "A" from Report Card in healthcare price transparency; 43 states failed. Without price transparency, providers and patients can't predict medical bills or behave in the most cost-effective manner.

4. Consumers could face high cost of care depending on where they receive care and not realize they could undergo treatment at a lower cost from a different provider. "The reality is that price transparency done right would inflict current price trends significantly at both the national and state levels," according to the article.

5. Just publishing the price information isn't enough; the cost for consumers must be easy to navigate and accessible to a vast majority of people. When the information is presented correctly, individual consumers will be more likely to shift costs down and seek out improved quality.

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