Get Ready for Price Transparency

Philip Betbeze, November 30, 2012

The healthcare industry convention of price opacity came under fire just before Thanksgiving, when the business-and-labor-backed Catalyst for Payment Reform issued what a "call to action" aimed at health plans and providers, asking them to "make healthcare price information more readily available to their employees and consumers."

That's right: a coalition of healthcare purchasers from both business and labor is calling for reform, starting with price transparency. Here's betting they'll get it—eventually. When these historically antagonistic groups unite in a cause, you know you've got a tough fight on your hands.

Several large employers, such as Boeing, Dow Chemical, and Wal-Mart, have joined the AFL-CIO, AARP, and other groups to trumpet this unified message. Last I checked, unions were picketing Wal-Mart on Black Friday, so even though these groups differ on big issues, this is one under which they can unite.

Many healthcare providers prevent health plans from sharing information (and health plans are complicit in this too) about the prices the health plan pays that organization for certain services. At one time, that might have made actual sense.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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