Healthcare Price Transparency Report Card Finds States Have Much Work to Do

Despite efforts by states to introduce legislation to make healthcare pricing information more accessible for consumers, most states still receive an F grade, according to the third annual Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws.

Despite efforts by states to introduce legislation to make healthcare pricing information more accessible for consumers, most states still receive an F grade, according to the third annual Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws from Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) and Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3).

The report is based on legislation passed in 2014, and since then many states have introduced legislation that may still pass. However, since last year’s report, based on 2013 legislation, few states have received grade changes. A full 45 states received an F in this year’s report.

“Given how little progress there has been with state laws, it’s important to understand the tenuous legal arguments used by some in the industry to keep price information inaccessible to the public,” Francois de Brantes, HCI3 executive director, said in a statement. “Very few of the commonly used arguments have merit.”

Only 3 states received grade changes: Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Last year Colorado had received a C since it was on the verge of releasing a public price transparency website. This year, the public website was up and running, but since it is still in a nascent stage and consumers can only search for maternity care and hip and knee replacements, Colorado received a B grade.

In New Hampshire, the addition of a new website, NH HealthCost, jumped the state from an F grade in the last report to an A this year. The site accounts for both insured and uninsured patients and provides great details in consumer-friendly terms, making it a model for other states looking to develop price information, according to the report.

Lastly, Massachusetts, which has traditionally received high honors in past report cards, received an F this year. When new legislation placed the responsibility of transparency on health plans, the government website, MyHealthCareOptions, was shut down. The loss of the government site meant entire populations of consumers, including the uninsured were unable to find price information.

“While we expect the private sector to lead advances in price transparency, there is an undeniable role for states—and we need them to step up,” said Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of CPR.