Elusive Goal: A Transparent Price List For Health Care

Some states are trying to make health care prices available to the public by collecting receipts from those who pay the bills: Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. Some states' efforts to make these prices available are in jeopardy.

hide captionSome states are trying to make health care prices available to the public by collecting receipts from those who pay the bills: Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. Some states’ efforts to make these prices available are in jeopardy.


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Coffee is important to many of us, but let’s say your coffee maker breaks. Finding a new one is as easy as typing “shop coffee maker” into your browser. Voila — you’ve got models, prices and customer reviews at your fingertips.

But say you need something less fun than a coffee maker — like a colonoscopy. Shopping for one of those is a lot harder. Actual prices for the procedure are almost impossible to find, and Bob Kershner says there’s huge variation in cost from one clinic to the next.

“You see the range is from $2,800 down to just about $400,” he says, pointing to a computer screen displaying some colonoscopy prices in Denver.

Kershner works for a nonprofit called CIVHC, which is starting to make health care prices publicly available in Colorado. His boss, Edie Sonn, says knowing prices can change the whole health care ball game.

“Knowledge is power,” she says. “None of us have had much information about how much health care services actually cost, and how much we’re getting for our money.” A database that includes all health claims in a particular state, she says, “gives you that information, so you can

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/12/276001379/elusive-goal-a-transparent-price-list-for-health-care?ft=1&f=131849999

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