Oregon hospitals to furnish price estimates

Oregon's hospitals have been the latest to join the price transparency bandwagon, although like most states, in a very limited fashion.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems (OAHHS) is working with its members to provide price estimates for procedures performed at 62 hospitals statewide, The Oregonian reported

"It's another step to give patients the tools they need to make decisions," OAHHS Executive Vice president Andy Van Pelt told The Oregonian.

Price transparency is a sore spot among hospitals. A study undertaken by Catalyst for Payment Reform last year concluded that only five states received a passing grade for price transparency--essentially providing enough price information for a patient to make an informed decision about spending money on healthcare.

Even in Massachusetts, which became one of the first states to mandate price transparency, consumers are challenged in actually being able to acquire such data from hospitals.

However, the price transparency initiative is limited in its scope. Price estimates will only be offered to those Oregon residents who lack health insurance. Only about 5 percent of the state's residents lack insurance coverage, according to The Oregonian.

Moreover, most of the information regarding price estimates on the OAHHS website direct consumers to call the hospitals directly to get a quote--a move that mostly does not work in Massachusetts.

In July, the Oregon Health Authority will post median prices on the 50 top inpatient procedures and the 100 most common outpatient procedures, as mandated by state law, The Oregonian reported.

To learn more:
- read The Oregonian article 
- check out the OAHHS price estimate website