This summer Massachusetts passed a new transparency law meant to publicize how much insurance companies pay to different hospitals for different treatments. It will also create a reporting system for how much hospital costs are increasing.
In North Carolina most people have no idea how much an MRI scan costs at UNC or Duke or Baptist and most people have no way to find out. If you have insurance then the price is negotiated between the provider and your insurance company. Those contracts are not public information.
But the amount paid to different hospitals by different insurance companies depends on the relative market power of the hospital and the insurer. If a particular hospital owns the only beds around then the provider has greater leverage. And big insurance companies that represent more customers have more clout to pay lower rates. But why should all of this information be secret?
Making these rates public should get progressive and conservative support. Proponents of high-deductible health plans should certainly support more transparency as it would make shopping around easier for patients. And if a particular hospital says it needs more money because of cost increases we can see if that is the case and if those costs are legitimate.
I’m sure insurance companies and hospitals would have something to say about the matter. I could be missing something, but it seems like a good move for consumers.