Health Care Prices Remain a Secret in Most States

Published July 8, 2015

Only five states adequately make health care prices available to the public, says a new report about health care price transparency.

The Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3) and Catalyst for Payment Reform’s (CPR) third annual Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws shows little progress being made despite what seems to be more activity in state legislatures discussing the need for price information, particularly at a time when more Americans are gaining health coverage under Obamacare. However, 45 of 50 states fail when it comes to disclosing health care price information to the public, says the report.

Despite this year’s poor result, the researchers say it wouldn’t take much to change the result.

States like Connecticut and New York are still assembling their all-payer claims databases and working on consumer-facing websites. Maryland is in the process of embarking on a significant effort to publish prices on health care services, and Washington State just enacted new laws. The researchers expect continued progress, albeit at a slow pace.

As more employers shift more costs onto workers, generally in the form of higher co-payments and deductibles, information about price information is becoming more important, and the lack of transparent price information means consumers still don’t know what the real cost of health care is.

Markets cannot function properly without freely accessible information on price and quality, say HCI3 and CPR.

In this year’s report card, New Hampshire was the only state to receive an “A,” which is an improvement from last year when it received an “F” and no states received an “A.” Colorado and Maine earned “Bs” while Vermont and Virginia each earned a “C.”

Forbes Magazine quoted Francois de Brantes, HCI3 executive director, saying, “[New Hampshire’s] rebound shows that even small states with few resources can develop and maintain a useful and consumer-friendly website on health care prices. Conversely, Massachusetts’ grade dropped precipitously due to shutting down MyHealthCareOptions, the website that had publicly posted price information.”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) is managing editor of Health Care News.

Internet Info:

“Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws,” Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and Catalyst for Payment Reform, July 2015:


APPENDIX II Use of All-Payer Claims Databases (APCD) for Provider Performance Reporting and Transparency,” Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and Catalyst for Payment Reform, July 2015: