"Consumers are going to have to do a lot more to make choices," he says.
The American Academy of Family Physicians says in a statement that people need both pricing and quality-of-care data to make informed choices. "That would allow patients to have a conversation with their primary care physician and then make the best decision for their individual needs," the statement reads.
If you're not on Medicare, will you be able to find out how much a service will cost you?
That's questionable. HHS is providing $87 million in grants to states to set up data review centers, with the goal of improving health pricing oversight and transparency.
The Rate Review Grant Program would provide states with the money to collect, analyze, and publish health pricing and medical claims reimbursement information.
Also, there's a movement underway, mostly led by large employers, to gain greater price transparency from health care providers. Today, many firms that provide employee health benefits, and most insurers, offer a pricing tool to help people determine their medical costs before they go for care. The goal in part is to encourage people to become better health care consumers by comparing providers on price vs. quality.
Steinberg of the AHA says the organization supports the drive for greater transparency and accountability. She says insurance companies should make pricing data available to their subscribers so they can go online and find out exactly what their financial obligation is -- the rates negotiated by their carrier and their copays.
"That needs to come from the payers,'' Steinberg says. "We're supportive of all stakeholders coming together and providing meaningful information to consumers.''