Catalyst for Payment Reform -- a not-for-profit coalition of major companies and labor unions -- has issued a policy platform calling for broader availability and transparency of health care cost data by January 2014, Modern Healthcare reports (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 11/1).
Need for Greater Transparency
According to CPR, consumers typically learn the cost of health care services only after receiving a bill, thus denying them the opportunity to find better deals. The group stated that consumers "have the right to know the price and quality of their health care choices," particularly as medical costs are rising and high-deductible health care plans are becoming more common.
In addition, CPR noted that employers often face difficulty finding pricing information about procedures at different hospitals and clinics.
CPR Executive Director Suzanne Delbanco said that some insurers have contracts prohibiting employers from sending their data to a third party for cost analyses. Such bans prevent employers and consumers from being able to select medical care based on price and quality, according to Delbanco (Mitchell, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/1).
In its platform, CPR stated that consumers should have access to health care pricing data through online portals, Web platforms and mobile applications. The group added that physicians, nurses and customer service representatives should ensure that consumers understand how to use such tools properly.
The coalition also outlined metrics that employers and consumer groups could use to evaluate existing health care cost transparency tools.
So far, 10 organizations -- including the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Corporate Health Care Coalition -- have endorsed CPR's policy platform, Modern Healthcare reports (Modern Healthcare, 11/1).