HFMA: Healthcare Pricing Transparency a Shared Responsibility

Christopher Cheney, April 30, 2014

A report setting principles and recommendations for achieving greater price transparency in US healthcare suggests the task will require cooperation between healthcare providers, payers, and employers.

Price transparency is a critical element to reforming the US healthcare system, says a report released this month by the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

"Patients are being asked to take on an increasingly significant share of the payment for healthcare services. They are looking for higher value providers: those that offer quality services at a fair price," Richard Gundling, VP of healthcare financial practices at HFMA, said in an email exchange. "It is impossible for them to make decisions about the value of a provider without having price as a component."

Why Is Healthcare Price Transparency So Hard?

The authors of the report wanted any form of price transparency to be easy to use and easy to communicate to stakeholders. They set the following goals as the foundation for price transparency reforms:

  • Should empower patients and other care purchasers to make meaningful price comparisons prior to receiving care.
  • Should be paired with other information that defines the value of services for the care purchaser.
  • Should ultimately provide patients with the information they need to understand the total price of their care and what is included in that price.
  • Will require the commitment and active participation of all stakeholders.

"Transparency won't be successful without clarity of information, or without easy accessibility. The basic point is to make it easy for patients and other care purchasers to make decisions about which provider offers them their desired level of value," Gundling said.

Christopher Cheney

Christopher Cheney is the senior finance editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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