Healthcare financial transparency improves

The more than 350 hospitals that do business in California have a new--and relatively rare--layer of transparency, reported the Sacramento Business Journal.

The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (oshpd), the Golden State's regulatory body for hospitals, has released a package of charts that focuses on finance issues such as payments from private insurers, relative profit margins and trends in labor costs.

Although the data, which is submitted by hospitals to OSHPD and then audited for accuracy, has been available from the agency in Excel spreadsheet form for several years, the agency had not done any close analysis of the figures or what they mean for the state's hospitals as a whole.

"Evaluating the financial picture of California's hospitals is especially important as California works to implement the Affordable Care Act," OSHPD Director Robert P. David said in a statement. "The demand for services is expected to increase steadily after 2014," he noted.

Few state agencies release financial data to the level California does. The state of Washington issues equivalent data and posts it on its health department website. States such as Texas and Rhode Island post financial information, but in aggregate snapshots.

To learn more:
- read the Sacramento Business Journal article
- here's the OSHPD statement (.pdf)
- visit the OSHPD hospital finance trends report page