Study finds need for improvement on state health care price websites

June 18, 2013, The JAMA Network Journals

"With rising health care costs and 30 percent of privately insured adults enrolled in high-deductible health care plans, calls for greater health care price transparency are increasing. In response, health plans, consumer groups, and state governments are increasingly reporting health care prices. Despite recognition that price information must be relevant, accurate, and usable to improve the value of patients' out-of-pocket expenditures, and the potential for this reporting to affect health care organizations and prices, there are no data on what kind of price information is being reported," writes Jeffrey T. Kullgren, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., of the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, Mich., and colleagues.

As reported in a Research Letter, the authors conducted a study to examine the characteristics of state health care price websites and identify opportunities for improving the utility of this information. Systematic Internet searches were conducted between January and May 2012 to identify publicly available, patient-oriented websites hosted by a state specific institution (e.g., a state government agency or hospital association) that enabled patients to estimate or compare prices for in that state. For each website, a number of factors were examined, including classifying the reporting organization, year reporting started, patient information used to generate price estimates, and types of services for which price estimates were provided.

Among the findings and recommendations of the researchers: "Greater relevance to patients could be realized by focusing information on services that are predictable, nonurgent, and subject to deductibles (e.g., routine outpatient care for ) rather than services that are unpredictable, emergent, or would exceed most deductibles (e.g., hospitalizations for life-threatening conditions). Accuracy could be improved by reporting allowable charges for full episodes of care (i.e., aggregate prices for health care services that include all fees such as facility, professional, and other fees). Usability could be enhanced by presenting quality information alongside prices where applicable, as opposed to reporting just one type of data needed to assess value."

Explore further: Transparency key to improving value care for patients

More information: JAMA. 2013;309[23]:2437-2438

Related Stories

Transparency key to improving value care for patients

May 29, 2013
(HealthDay)—In order to ensure the provision of higher quality care and cost control in a post-Affordable Care Act health care system, data on price, utilization, and quality should be made publicly available unless there ...

Medical patients aren't bargain hunters

April 3, 2013
Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) offer low premiums but high deductibles on the premise that patients who are faced with deductibles of $1,000 or more for individual coverage (or twice that for family coverage) will ...

Diabetes care for African-Americans can be improved

April 1, 2013
(HealthDay)—For African-Americans with type 2 diabetes, health care-promoted interventions targeting patients, the health care system, or both, can improve the quality of care, according to a review and meta-analysis published ...

Law dramatically reduced hospital prices for the uninsured, study says

June 3, 2013
To comply with a statewide "fair pricing" law, hospitals throughout California have significantly lowered prices to uninsured patients, with nearly all even going beyond the state mandate and offering free care to those below ...

Study finds difficulty obtaining pricing, varying costs for total hip replacement

February 11, 2013
Researchers who sought to determine whether pricing information for a total hip replacement could be obtained from hospitals and physicians found getting such information was often difficult and that there were wide variations ...

Mental health and NCDs

May 14, 2013
Non-communicable diseases (NCD) and mental disorders each constitute a huge portion of the worldwide health care burden, and often occur together, so they should be addressed together. These are the conclusions of the third ...

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.