Southern California Physician Group Posts Prices Online
HealthCare Partners, a physician group in Southern California, last week became one of the first and largest health care organizations in the country to post procedure prices online, the Los Angles Times reports.
The group, which treats more than 500,000 patients, was driven in part by the increasing number of retail clinics that offer simple medical services at publicized prices (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 5/28).
The listed prices in most cases are more than what the group receives from government programs and less than or equal to negotiated insurer rates, according to Robert Margolis, a founding physician and CEO of the medical group.
Some say that publicizing prices is of limited value to consumers because without knowing the necessary steps to diagnose and treat a condition, patients will be unable to get an accurate cost estimate.
In response, HealthCare Partners is limiting its online price list to common and routine tests and preventive care services. The physician group offers a toll-free support number for patients who want more detailed cost information (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 5/28).
HealthCare Partners hopes potential patients will appreciate the price transparency and choose to visit a physician group over a walk-in clinic (AP/Wall Street Journal, 5/28). Some experts said that given the competitiveness of Southern California's health care market, HealthCare Partners' effort could spur other physician groups to post the cost of procedures online (Los Angles Times, 5/28).
Procedure prices can be found on a "fees for basic services" page on the group's Web site (AP/Wall Street Journal, 5/28).
American Public Media's "Marketplace" on Monday reported on HealthCare Partners Medical Group. The segment includes comments from:
- Karen DeSalvo, an associate professor at Tulane University School of Medicine; and
- Stefan Kertesz, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama School of Medicine (Roth, "Marketplace," American Public Media, 5/28).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.