Transparency Not Enough To Reduce Health Care Costs, Experts Say
During a Senate Committee on Finance hearing Tuesday, health experts urged lawmakers to look beyond efforts to increase health care transparency -- such as making online health care pricing data more widely available -- to control the increasing cost of health care services, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
The committee hearing was held partly in response to an article published in Time in March by journalist Steven Brill, which highlighted dramatic differences in health care prices across the U.S.
Discussion of Transparency
During the hearing, Brill said although he supports efforts to make health care price information publicly available, he believes increasing transparency has its limits (Tran, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 6/18).
Brill said, "Transparency can only go so far" in addressing the real cost problems, noting that even when provided with pricing data, most patients are unable to do anything to avoid high costs. Brill added, "While transparency starts the conversation about prices ... it's only a start."
Other experts agreed with Brill. Castlight Health CEO Giovanni Colella said, "Making [CMS] data accessible will help everyone better understand quality of care and cost of care," but it would do little to solve the problem (Pogorelc, MedCity News, 6/18).Meanwhile, Paul Ginsburg -- president of the Center for Studying Health System Change -- said, "The key to price transparency leading to lower prices for consumers is benefit designs that offer rewards to them" ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 6/18). He suggested having purchasers and health plans analyze the complex cost data -- along with benefit quality and design data -- that provide consumers with an incentive to choose higher-quality, lower-cost providers (MedCity News, 6/18). 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.