Legislation to create a statewide health care cost and quality database was introduced this month in Sacramento.
The bill, SB 26 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), is considered a step toward cost transparency meant to inform consumers about true costs of health care products and services and encourage providers to develop more cost-effective programs.
The bill directs California HHS to contract with a not-for-profit organization over the next two years to create and administer the California Health Care Cost and Quality Database. The database would be created and available for public searches by Jan. 1, 2019.
The database would include pricing information for health care items, services and medical and surgical episodes. It would include medical, dental and pharmacy data to be provided by health care service plans, insurers and self-insured employers.
Other states, notably New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts, have set up health care cost databases in various formats which are being used by consumers, providers and payers.
In New Hampshire, which began posting an all-payer claims database in 2007, pricing transparency was not used much by consumers, but did result in a shift in health plan and provider relationships and market dynamics, according to a report by the California HealthCare Foundation, which publishes California Healthline.
Another cost comparison effort is under way in California. The state Department of Insurance has an agreement with the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UC-San Francisco to collect and analyze data for a database reflecting health care costs and quality in specific geographic regions. The database is scheduled to be online next summer. The work is funded by a $5.2 million grant under the Affordable Care Act.