Ohio hospital CEOs act as 'secret shoppers,' try to learn prices
A "secret shopper" exercise, in which 18 trustees and top hospital executives in Ohio posed as uninsured patients, revealed how difficult it is to receive pricing information, according to the Columbus Biz Insider.
Executives from various organizations ranging from small rural facilities to the Cleveland Clinic called their own institutions and asked a scripted set of questions regarding the cost of a procedure. The exercise showed that some hospitals' customer service departments are able to provide very good information, while many others are in need of customer service training, according to the report.
The results of the exercise partially inspired the Ohio Hospital Association's upcoming efforts to improve cost transparency and help patients compare facilities based on cost and quality. The Health Policy Institute of Ohio already has an initiative on improving cost transparency, and is currently deliberating on whether the state should create a database of "all payer claims," according to the report.
Ohio received an F on state price transparency laws by Catalyst for Payment Reform and Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute.
Consumers have complained about the difficulty of attaining information on hospital pricing for years. A 2012 Ohio law requires hospitals to submit the range and average charges for the 60 most common procedures to the Ohio Department of Health for publication, but the prices are out of date and contain amounts of data that are difficult to navigate, according to the report.
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