Colorado Price Transparency Law Potentially Confusing to Healthcare Consumers | Dark Daily

In an effort to promote price transparency in healthcare, Colorado legislators passed a new law requiring hospitals in that state to post self-pay prices for the most common procedures and treatments. Their hope is healthcare consumers who lack insurance will find it easier to price shop and, therefore, make informed healthcare decisions.

However, not all providers in that state think the bill is needed and some are concerned it could cause confusion. It remains to be seen how Colorado hospital medical laboratories and outpatient practices, such as anatomic pathology groups, will be impacted by the new transparency requirements.

Potential Confusion a Concern for UCHealth

The Transparency in Health Care Prices Act (SB17-065), which took effect on January 1, 2018, calls for Colorado hospitals to post self-pay prices for their top 50 diagnosis-related-group codes; and self-pay prices for the 25 leading current procedural technology billing codes, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Physicians’ practices and other providers also must post prices for their 15 most popular procedures under the new law, Healthcare Dive reported. In an issues brief, the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) supported the bill “because it aligns with the Association’s transparency policy principles.”

But some Colorado healthcare providers have expressed concerns about the new requirements.

“Because of the complexity of pricing, it’s possible the self-pay prices we have posted on our website might increase confusion,” Dan Weaver, Senior Director of Public Relations for UCHealth, told Colorado Politics. “Patients who have insurance coverage, Medicaid or Medicare will have very different out-of-pocket responsibilities [from the posted price].” The article was later published in the Durango Herald.

Various points of potential confusion include:

  • Prices show what self-pay patients must pay and not what an insured patient would pay under their health plans, which would be much lower;
  • Only 7% of Colorado residents are uninsured, according to a Colorado Health Institute report; and,
  • Even an “apple-to-apple” comparison by price is not so easy to do, reported Healthcare Finance based on its analysis of some Colorado hospitals’ price lists.

Christine Clark, Associate CFO Revenue Cycle (above), Denver Health, told Healthcare Finance, “We do have concerns that this will make the issue more confusing to patients as there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to providing patients estimates due to the wide variability insurance plans bring to the process. Providing a self-pay price for a service is probably the least complicated.” However, she added, “There is always some variability in the price of procedures due to different patient needs.”

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Colorado Price Transparency Law Potentially Confusing to Healthcare Consumers | Dark Daily.