Years after state-mandated health cost transparency, few Massachusetts residents taking advantage of it

For years, Massachusetts has required health insurers to provide consumers price estimates for medical services. But a poll released Nov. 4 to mark the fifth anniversary of the effective date of the state's transparency provisions (from a law originally passed in 2012) shows few Massachusetts know how to get price information before a procedure.

"One reason patients don't seek price information is because they don't know how to do it, and sometimes don't even realize it's available to them," said Pioneer Institute Senior Fellow in Healthcare Barbara Anthony in a release from the institute. She added, "This survey shows that the public wants transparency in their healthcare prices, but easy access to such information is not yet a reality."

The June poll — commissioned by Pioneer Institute and conducted by DAPA Research — included 500 Massachusetts residents who get their health insurance through their employers.

Seven findings:

1. Seventy percent of respondents said they want to know the price of a medical service before obtaining it.

2. Eighty percent of respondents said they are interested in a website that shows how much different physicians or hospitals would cost them out of pocket.

3. Seventy-seven percent of respondents are interested in cash back opportunities through their insurer for choosing a cheaper physician or hospital.

4. Seventy-six percent of respondents are interested in knowing how much their insurance company pays their physician or hospital for a procedure or visit before they go.

5. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they don't know whether their insurance company has a website or cost estimator tool that would allow them to compare out-of-pocket costs.

6. Of the 153 respondents who knew their insurer had a cost estimator tool, only 29 percent have used it. 

7. Seventy-eight percent of respondents have not tried to find the price of a healthcare service before obtaining it. Of those respondents, 10 percent said they didn't know how to obtain the information and 12 percent said they thought it would be too complicated to obtain.

Read more about the poll here


More articles on healthcare finance: 

Florida hospital board recoups an additional $1.3M from CMS tied to pre-HCA lease
CMS finalizes home health payment rule for 2020: 8 things to know
Miami safety-net health system hopes upgrades will draw insured patients

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