Another union push for healthcare price transparency

Organized labor's push for healthcare price transparency expanded to South Florida, with a union for public employees demanding more cost data from hospitals, physicians and health plans.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents public workers in Miami's Dade County, made the request due to continually rising healthcare costs for union members, according to the Miami Herald. The costs for county employees could rise as much as 10 percent next year, and will approach $425 million.

"It's really hard to be insightful with this when you don't see where 99 percent of the costs are going,'' Duane Fitch, a healthcare consultant for SEIU Local 1991, told the Miami Herald. His union represents Jackson Health System physicians and nurses.

Price transparency in healthcare delivery is slowly making headway. States such as South Carolina post prices on a publicly operated website, but most other states and individual providers allow for very little price and cost information.

Meanwhile, SEIU continues its push for price reforms in other parts of the country. In California, the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West is in the midst of a voter signature campaign for a ballot proposition to determine whether to cap hospital prices at 25 percent above the actual cost of providing care--an initiative that would require hospitals to disclose prices.

However, hospital officials in California say the move by the SEIU-UHW--which also includes a ballot initiative to cap hospital CEO compensation--is political and an attempt to beef up its ability to bargain with providers. By contrast, a steadier control on costs is the motivation behind the move in Florida. 

But the outcome in Miami may be similar to that in California--those holding the price data would prefer to keep it confidential. Miami-Dade is self-insured and considers its negotiated prices for healthcare services with a third-party administrator as confidential.

To learn more
- read the Miami Herald article