Summary: The Harvard Business Review/New England Journal of Medicine featured my article describing clearhealthcosts.com and our work on PriceCheck on Nov. 26. In a piece titled “It’s Absurd That Health Care Costs Are So Confusing,” I explained how health cost transparency is helping empower people in the marketplace.
“People are shopping for health care,” I wrote. “And it’s not always pretty.”
You can read the full article here; free registration gives you access to 15 free articles a month.
There’s a mini-history of ClearHealthCosts, and then a description of our PriceCheck prototype project, crowdsourcing health care costs with our partners at KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC/Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Here’s the ending passage, after discussion of price transparency, including MRI costs that range from $300 to $6,221 in the same metro area:
“If you want the $6,221 MRI, you should have it — but you should pay for it, not me, not my employer, not my government. If you want the $300 test, it’s yours. If you want to buy your prescription for $150, go ahead. But you should also know that if you walk two blocks, you can get it for $17. (Yes, these are real numbers.) And you shouldn’t need to be a detective to discover this.
“Once cost transparency is a matter of course, quality metrics that are clear and useful will come to the fore. And as the non-emergency, modest-ticket marketplace is transformed, people will also start to approach the emergency, big-ticket items as cost-conscious consumers.
“Transparent markets benefit consumers, as providers compete to win business and healthy market forces produce benefits for suppliers. Witness how the markets for airline tickets, cars, and real estate were transformed by technology and transparency. Like it or not, health care is close behind.
“Those at the forefront will be rewarded: Transparency shines a radiant light on good services at reasonable prices. Those who offer only partial transparency will do so at their peril. The internet hates when people lie and keep secrets.
“People are shopping for health care. It’s time to acknowledge that — and celebrate it.”