As Massachusetts became the first state earlier this month to require insurers provide real-time prices for all covered medical services, it's leading the trend toward a more consumer-oriented healthcare insurance industry.
But because consumers aren't used to shopping around for healthcare prices, Massachusetts officials are working hard to promote the newly available price transparency tools. On Tuesday, the state launched an advertising campaign, known as "Get the Deal on Care," to educate and encourage consumers to review and compare medical prices, which are available online or via phone, before obtaining care, according to a statement from the Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development agency.
Insurers are required to provide the medical prices under a first-of-its-kind state law aimed at lowering healthcare costs, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
"We're at the beginning of a movement here," Barbara Anthony, undersecretary for consumer affairs and business regulation, told WBUR. "We hear about the dawn of patient-centered care. We want to put patients in the driver seat."
Beginning Oct. 1, consumers in Massachusetts have been able to go online to access their insurers' price quotes. They can't review costs for other insurers' health plans, however. The cost estimators also list all providers in a defined area that perform certain services, organized from lowest to highest costs, The Boston Globe reported.
"When prices are transparent in a market, when consumers can see them and other providers can see them, the result of that is going to be lower costs," Anthony told The Globe.