Despite modest gains in the past year among states that are considered top performers in price-transparency, the vast majority of states again post failing grades.
Forty-three states have received failing grades on a test that scrutinizes healthcare price-transparency laws. But for the first time since the annual grades were first issued in 2013, three states earned an "A" grade.
The Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws gauges the strength and effectiveness of state regulations based on a handful of metrics: the source of price data, the participation level of hospitals and physician practices, whether patient prices are listed on an out-of-pocket basis rather than a price-charged basis, the scope of the services that have pricing information, and whether the pricing information is readily available online.
Last year, New Hampshire was the only state to receive an "A," and 45 states received a failing grade. This year, Colorado and Maine join New Hampshire at the top grade level. They earned "B" grades last year.
The report card was prepared by the Newtown, CT-based Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and Berkeley, CA-based Catalyst for Payment Reform.
Most states face an unmet need for healthcare price transparency, the report says. "It's typical in American healthcare for consumers to go into an appointment or procedure knowing nothing about what it will cost until long afterward. State laws mandating healthcare price transparency for consumers can help fix the mystery surrounding healthcare prices."
Dozens of states have laws that refer to price transparency, but provide little to help consumers shop for and choose care, the report says. It suggests that the laws need to be redesigned or implemented more effectively.
"Most states have approached the subject of price transparency at the legislative level, as only seven states have no statutes addressing it. But in 37 other states, the lack of transparency comes from weaknesses in the design and implementation of their laws, earning them each a D or F."