Price transparency: A call from an unusual source

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Pressure for hospital price transparency is coming from an unlikely quarter: the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is pushing the Madison Common Council to pass a resolution that calls for hospitals to be more transparent regarding the costs of their services, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

In reference to data posted publicly by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, Soglin told WPR that "if you look at the column, go down every one of these items, you’ll see that the private insurance payment is almost twice of what is the payment for Medicare patient.”

Soglin said he wants hospitals to reveal the actual cost of providing care in order to determine if payments are out of alignment.

Such divergence between what payers must remit to hospitals for services is not confined to Wisconsin. A new survey in Oregon found as much as a three-fold variation in what private insurers pay hospitals to perform 46 common procedures, the Salem Statesman-Journal reported.

Meanwhile, consumers can obtain little price transparency in terms of being able to make an informed decision on their care based on cost. A study issued last year by the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and Catalyst for Payment Reform concluded that only five states provide enough relevant pricing data for consumers to make a difference. Presumed Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has proposed price transparency as part of his healthcare platform.

Hospitals have evinced skepticism at such notions of transparency while acknowledging that cost-shifting is part of their longtime business practices.

– read the WPR article
– check out the Statesman-Journal article