Consumers Can Check Medical Prices, Quality Scores On New State Website
by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Lifting some of the secrecy surrounding California healthcare, state officials unveiled a website where consumers can look up average prices for common medical procedures — as well as quality scores for providers.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, consumer advocates and researchers hailed the online tool launched Monday as the first step in prying more detailed prices from insurers, hospitals and doctors so patients facing high deductibles can find the best deal.
The healthcare industry has often resisted efforts at transparency, frustrating consumers, employers and government agencies paying the bills.
The California Healthcare Compare website is a collaboration among the state Department of Insurance, UC San Francisco and Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports. Those groups built the site using $3.9 million in federal grant money made available through the Affordable Care Act.
The information can be found at www.cahealthcarecompare.org.
“The time for greater transparency for healthcare costs is long overdue,” Jones said. “Consumers have been in the dark about the price of medical services from one medical provider and facility to the next and certainly haven’t had cost information paired with quality measures.”
Two months ago, California and 44 other states received a failing grade in an annual report card that measures how much access patients have to actual prices for medical care.
The new online tool seeks to remedy that by offering the range of prices paid by health insurers for more than 100 medical procedures or conditions as well as the average cost by geographic area.
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