Healthcare Price Information Availability Worsening | MedSpace

Despite growing support for greater price transparency, US hospitals were worse at providing price estimates for total hip arthroplasty (THA) in 2016 than they were in 2011-2012, a follow-up survey of 120 facilities reports.

“Our results provide sobering evidence that substantial efforts from government and industry to improve pricing transparency have had little tangible effect on availability of prices,” write Safiyyah Mahomed, BSc, a medical student at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues in a JAMA Internal Medicine research letter published online May 29.

Posing as the granddaughter of a 62-year-old woman needing a THA, the researchers contacted 120 hospitals in 2016 seeking the lowest cash bundled price, an amount that included all hospital and physician costs. If unable to quote a physician’s THA fee, the hospital was asked for the name of an orthopedic surgery practice that could confirm the fee. Contacting each hospital at least five times, the investigators categorized answers as no price information, partial information (hospital or physician price only), complete information (separately obtained hospital plus doctor cost), or bundled hospital-physician price.

Although clear price information is seen as crucial to patients for informed healthcare decision-making, the 2016 survey showed a decline in transparency across almost all measures since a predecessor survey that was conducted in 2011 and analyzed in 2012. The proportion of hospitals providing a bundled-price estimate dropped from 15.8% (19/120) in 2012 to 6.7% (8/120) in 2016, for an odds ratio (OR) of 0.2 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.0 – 0.8; P = .001). Those supplying a complete price declined from 47.5% (57/120) to 20.8% (25/120), for an OR of 0.2 (95% CI, 0.1 – 0.5; P < .001). Partial price availability was up slightly to 28.3% (34/120) compared with 22.5% (27/120) in 2012 (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 0.7 – 2.5; P = .38).

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Healthcare Price Information Availability Worsening.