Idaho gets an F in health-care price transparency, according to new report

newsroom@idahostatesman.comMarch 25, 2014 

Idaho got an "F" grade for its lack of health-care price transparency, according to a report by the Catalyst for Payment Reform and Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. The report grades each state on the ability of its consumers to access information about prices for medical care.

"With consumers taking on a rising share of their health care costs, access to meaningful price information is more important than ever," wrote Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform and Francois de Brantes, executive director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. The groups are nonprofits whose stated missions include pushing for health-care payment reform and better quality care.

Idaho has no laws requiring public disclosure of health-care prices, both virtually and on request from hospitals or doctors, nor does it have public websites that show prices on a voluntary basis. That is why Idaho got a failing grade.

Two bills in the Idaho Legislature last session were related to hospital price transparency. The Legislature did not vote on them.

But Idaho wasn't alone. Almost every state got a failing grade.

"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," the executive directors wrote.

Three states — Colorado, Vermont and Virginia — got "C" grades.

Maine and Massachusetts ranked highest — with "B" grades. Both states have several laws in place to collect and/or publish health-care price and quality information from hospitals, health-care providers and health insurers.

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