Maryland is displaying healthcare costs on T-shirts

Maryland officials are using T-shirts to raise awareness of healthcare costs, according to a Kaiser Health News report.

The T-shirts, available through the Maryland Health Care Commission's "wear the cost" campaign, display the average cost for certain procedures in the state. One T-shirt reads "hip replacement $30,067." Another reads "hysterectomy $16,138." The average costs are based on 2015/2016 commercial insurance provider data and include hospital care and nonhospital expenses.

"We tried to focus it on a level most consumers are at," Ben Steffen, executive director of the commission, told Kaiser Health News. "It is an opportunity to wear a billboard in certain public settings" to prompt questions, he said.

The campaign website provides the average cost of select procedures, showing differences in what a procedure costs at one Maryland hospital versus another. Mr. Steffen said cost differences among hospitals are adjusted to "take account of differences in case severity."

The website also shows the costs associated with potentially avoidable complication rates for each procedure.

"The hope is that, over time, consumers will come to expect that prices are available … and use them regularly in making decisions about where to get care," Sarah Litton of Altarum, a research and consulting firm that worked on the campaign, told KHN.

More information about the campaign is available here.


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