Maryland health regulator expands hospital price transparency efforts

The MHCC's "Wear the Cost" initiative provides prices at Maryland hospitals for common nonemergent procedures including hip replacements, knee replacements, hysterectomies and vaginal births to allow residents see the differences in price. (Getty/ronstik)

The Maryland Health Care Commission is expanding its price transparency initiative with tools aimed at getting consumers pushing for information about cost and quality directly from hospitals and doctors.

Launched last fall, the MHCC's "Wear the Cost" initiative provides prices at Maryland hospitals for common nonemergent procedures including hip replacements, knee replacements, hysterectomies and vaginal births to allow residents see the differences in price.

With persisting significant price variations in price and quality, the initiative's website was updated on Thursday to include price and quality data calculated based on commercial insurer data from 2015 and 2016.

For instance, the website shows the average cost for a vaginal delivery at Johns Hopkins Healthcare in Baltimore is $14,578 while including an average of $325 of avoidable complications. At Anne Arundel Medical Center, located less than an hour away, had an average price of $10,140 with an average of $165 in avoidable complications. 

RELATED: Maryland launches price tool for common procedures

“Historically in Maryland, consumers really don’t know what’s happening,” Maryland Health Care Commission Executive Director Ben Steffen told FierceHealthcare. “It’s very hard for consumers anyplace to penetrate the healthcare economy and get some understanding about it. 

The project is called WeartheCost because it has created T-shirts with the cost of these procedures printed on them to raise more awareness about the price differences. Steffen said cost variation for these procedures of 25% or more.