Report: 90% of states fail in price transparency

Ninety percent of states do not provide sufficient healthcare pricing information to consumers, according to a report card from the nonprofits Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and Catalyst for Payment Reform.

The report card gave 45 states a failing grade and no states an "A" grade. Maine and Massachusetts both received a "B," the highest grade issued. Unlike the groups' inaugural report card in 2013, they did not grade states on a curve this year, according to a statement. The report also factored in the effectiveness of state price transparency laws.

"Some states have robust price transparency laws and regulations, requiring them to create a publicly available website with price information based on real paid claims information," the statement reads, "but in reality, the public can't readily access that information because the website is poorly designed, or poorly functioning."

For example, New Hampshire's grade dropped from an A to an F because of its inoperative pricing website, according to the statement. Other states have nonprofits or hospital groups run their price transparency sites, but the report did not consider them because, without a legislative mandate, "they can be short-lived, dependent on the good will and resources of the organization that hosts them," the statement says.

Although price transparency is currently a hot topic, "the truth is that today it's a very rare instance when a consumer can easily find meaningful information about healthcare prices," Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform, told Forbes.

"We hope the Report Card will inform advocates, lawmakers, and policy experts about today's best practices or what constitutes a top grade and, over time, generate improvements in public policies and consumer websites across the nation," the statement reads. "American consumers deserve easy access to robust information about the cost and quality of their healthcare and today they're not getting it."

Some states took steps to improve their transparency. For example, Washington, which received a failing grade, advanced two bills aimed at increasing price transparency last week, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the report card (.pdf)
- read the statement
- read the Forbes article