Indiana unveils price transparency website

The Hoosier State is the latest to get into the price transparency game, with the Indiana Hospital Association launching a database that contains a variety of charges for common medical procedures, the Indianapolis Star reported.

As part of the database, which is known as CareInSight, the state reveals average charges and quality information.

The website itself is somewhat more ironic than efforts in others states, highlighted by an animated video that asks the question, "Why does healthcare cost so much?"

Other states ask that question as well. One state, Massachusetts, has actually gone so far as to mandate some levels of price transparency in its provider community. However, most states still fall far short of what would be considered transparency effective enough for consumers to make informed decisions regarding healthcare based on price.

Officials with the Indiana Hospital Association indicated that the primary motivator for the database was the general lack of price transparency, which puts patients at a disadvantage when negotiating prices for the care they receive, the Indianapolis Star reported.

"This is a system we don't like either," IHA President Douglas Leonard told the Star about the decision behind the website. "It's not to our advantage to have a price that no one understands or we can't explain. We wanted to get as close as we could to some predictability. It's not an answer, but it's a tool that we want to use to move closer to an answer."

As with other price transparency websites, the available data demonstrates that hospital prices are all over the map.  An appendectomy costs well over twice as much at Indiana University (IU) Health Methodist Hospital--more than $48,000--than at Riverview Health, which charges about $23,700, according to the website. A C-section childbirth ranges in price from less than $8,000 to more than $130,000 if some complications are included.

The IU Health system tended to charge more than most other hospitals in Indiana, but officials said that was because they treated more complicated cases than other providers, according to the Star.

To learn more:
- read the Indianapolis Star article 
- check out the price transparency website