Health prices are more transparent, and how patients use them: Reporting on Health

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

Summary: “Patients and health care journalists have long called for greater transparency in the prices of health care, and several companies now provide that information for free. Clearhealthcosts.com, started by Jeanne Pinder, a former New York Times reporter, has built a searchable database of dozens of tests, procedures, and treatments and the prices charged by particular providers in selected metropolitan areas. Healthcare Blue Book and Fair Health are national databases of thousands of health services and procedures, with their prices searchable by zip code. Health insurers have begun providing similar online resources,” Susan Gilbert writes in “Reporting on Health” from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Schoool. “But do patients use this information? Two recent surveys found different answers. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll in April, a random sample of 1,506 adults, found that only 6 percent had seen information on the prices of doctors and hospital stays in the previous year and that only 3 percent had used it before seeing a doctor and 2 percent before a checking into a hospital. But Public Agenda, in a survey of more than 2,000 adults, reported in March that 56 percent ‘actively looked’ for health care price information before getting care, ‘including 21 percent who have compared prices across multiple providers.’ ” Health care prices are more transparent, but patients might not be using the data,” Reporting on Health.