Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws

Source: Catalyst for Payment Reform and Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, March 25, 2014

… In this year’s Report Card, we decided to raise the bar, no longer grading state laws on a curve, as we did in 2013. We also decided to take a deeper look at whether these laws were achieving the ultimate goal—ensuring consumers have access to meaningful information about the price of their health care. For this reason, we expanded the scope of our inquiry to examine not only state laws on the books, but also states’ price transparency regulations, price transparency websites, and all-payer claims databases, the ideal source of data for these websites.

Some states have robust price transparency laws and regulations, requiring them to create a publicly available website with price information based on real paid claims information; but in reality, the public can’t readily access that information because the website is poorly designed, or poorly functioning. Given that so many state-mandated websites are inadequate, once we included websites into our review and grading, no state received an “A” in this year’s Report Card. Unfortunately, New Hampshire—a state that received an A in last year’s Report Card—dropped to an F this year, because its website is inoperative and may remain so for an extended period.

Several states have “voluntary price transparency websites,” hosted by hospital associations, foundations, or nonprofits. While these sites can be a valuable resource to consumers, if they are not legislated they can be short-lived, dependent on the good will and resources of the organization that hosts them. For this reason, we did not factor in these websites when awarding the 2014 state grades; however, we did provide a review of them in Appendix I for comparison purposes.

This Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws is a joint effort between Catalyst for Payment Reform and Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute to examine consumers’ access to price information in all 50 states, using well-defined grading criteria applied to laws, regulations, and state-mandated websites. The Methodology section of this report contains detail about these criteria. …

… While many states have made progress, particularly in proposing and enacting laws and regulations, theres is a lot more that has to be done for the majorlity of residents in the United States to have access to essential information on the prices of health care. During 2013, we saw a veritable explosion of articles in the popular press exposing the challanges consumers face in getting information on health care prices. That challange hasn’t lessened and yet too few States have risend to take it on and create the important building blocks of transparency. We hope the 2015 Report Card will paint a far brighter picture for all Americans. …