In a new state-by-state study of price reporting provisions for medical services in America, over half of all U.S. states receive a failing grade. The report, which was compiled by two major American health care consulting firms, judges states based on both their price reporting laws and the availability of that information to the public — for instance, a state that requires providers to report the costs of every inpatient and outpatient procedure on a public website would get high marks. But as the following figure from the report shows, only New Hampshire and Massachusetts have any semblance of strong price reporting laws on their books, and the vast majority of states don’t even meet minimal standards:
In a letter at the beginning of the report, Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute Executive Director Francois de Brantes notes that as employers increasingly shift the cost of health care onto their workers by offering coverage through high-deductible health plans, “it is only fair and logical to ensure that consumers have the necessary quality and price information to make informed decisions about where to seek health care.”
Unfortunately, this transparency simply does not exist in the American health care industry, allowing providers to price gouge and leaving patients in the dark about why their care costs what it does. A recent Time investigation into price opacity in U.S. medical services revealed that a lack of strong public reporting provisions and consumer protections allows providers to charge their patients arbitrary and staggeringly inflated prices for their medical services, contributing heavily to rising health care costs.