Towards Affordable Care: Policies To Reduce Price Variability

Towards Affordable Care: Policies To Reduce Price Variability Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hospital pricing for elective procedures can vary significantly across facilities within a given market area, and differences are typically unrelated to variations in quality of care. Under most benefit plans, insured consumers lack incentive to choose hospitals offering a lower price for these services. In addition, prices charged for general hospital care often differ based on patients’ insurance status.

The featured policy Innovations describe a retirement system that incorporated a reference-pricing policy for certain procedures in its benefits design, enabling plan enrollees to select high-value hospitals; and California state legislation that promotes fair hospital pricing.

The featured QualityTools include a tool for consumers to estimate how much providers charge for medical and dental services in their area, a Web site to help patients in California navigate the application process for discounted care from hospitals, and a guide for consumers on the average cost of health care services to support price comparisons.

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