Only five states provide consumers with enough healthcare pricing information to make informed decisions, according to the third annual report from the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HC3) and Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR).
The five states that received a passing grade--New Hampshire, Colorado, Maine, Virginia and Vermont—all have healthcare price transparency laws on the books. Maine and Colorado scored B grades, while Vermont and Virginia received Cs. Of these states, only New Hampshire received an A, an improvement from last year, when no states made As.
The Granite State received a failing grade last year due to a malfunctioning price information site that it has since repaired. Conversely, Massachusetts, which scored a B on last year's report card, saw its score drop to an F after shuttering its own pricing information site, MyHealthCareOptions. Although Massachusetts was one of the first states to pass a price transparency law, a recent survey indicated Bay State providers have not complied with it.
Despite the poor scores for the vast majority of states, New Hampshire's improvement proves states could raise their transparency scores with minimal effort, according to HC3 Executive Director Francois de Brantes and CPR Executive Director Suzanne Delbanco, Ph.D. Connecticut and New York are both in the process of assembling all-claims databases, while Maryland is working to publish price information on a broad scale and Washington recently enacted a state transparency law, they wrote in an announcement.
One major obstacle to state price transparency is lobbying efforts against transparency laws from industry groups, Delbanco and Brantes wrote. "Many won't [pass] due to pressure from providers, payers and other suppliers to the industry who still benefit from price opacity," they wrote. "That pressure often rests on spurious arguments about price as a trade secret and/or the potential for a state law on price transparency to violate contracted terms between payers, providers, and suppliers--arguments legislators and the media often accept."