Catalyst for Payment Reform

Throwback Thursday: Evolution of Price Transparency Tools

Throwback Thursday: Evolution of Price Transparency Tools

Health care consumers today are not the same as they were five years ago. They are becoming savvier shoppers for care – paying increasing attention to prices and quality.  The growth in smart shopping is being driven by a corresponding rise in benefit designs that place greater financial responsibility for care on consumers, such as high-deductible health plans.

According to a recent survey from Kaiser, in 2016 83 percent of covered workers faced an average deductible of $1,478 for single coverage, a 49 percent increase since 2011.  Furthermore, the study found that 51 percent of covered workers have annual deductibles of at least $1,000 for single coverage.

Consumers now have higher expectations regarding the availability of health care price information and price transparency tools must be available that meet those expectations and needs.  Otherwise, the lack of adequate transparency is an obstacle to managing health care and its associated costs effectively.

Today’s transparency tools, offered by most large national health plans and many independent vendors, and the quantity and quality of data they provide have come a long way toward meeting consumer needs.  For instance, while it used to be impossible to consider price and quality information simultaneously, today, this feature is nearly ubiquitous among tools. Thus, as consumer and industry expectations have shifted over time, transparency tools have evolved to keep pace.

However, we are still pushing for toolmakers to make further strides, including creating overall value ratings that help consumers identify their “best buy” when shopping for care, and the further integration of quality and pharmacy information into tools.

Interested in learning more about the evolution of transparency tools?  Check out our corresponding Health Affairs blog post and our 2017 Specifications for the Evaluation of Price Transparency Tools.

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