Report Gives Almost All States a Failing Grade on Price Transparency

The 2014 Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws has been released by the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (Institute), providing a resource for policy makers, consumer advocates and health care leaders to access health care prices in every state across the country. Noting that the inaugural report in 2013 gave many states a failing grade, the Institute nonetheless “raised the bar” and further researched state laws, state price transparency regulations, price transparency websites, and all-payer claims databases for the 2014 report. The Institute did not factor “voluntary price transparency websites” into its grade, websites that are hosted by hospital associations, foundations or nonprofits, because they are dependent on the “good will and resources of the organizations that hosts them.”

Methodology

The Institute reviewed: (1) state-specific laws focused on transparency for health care; (2) related state regulations regarding price transparency; and (3) state-mandated price transparency websites, with each state getting an overall grade based on the 3 components. Numerous sub-factors influenced the final grade, with points earned by states for various specific criteria relating to the website’s ease of use, utility, scope and accuracy. The overall review generated six resources, including a report card giving each state a letter grade, reference tables and an appendix with information on voluntary websites to give states a sense on how their websites measure up against others. The Institute also looked at laws and regulations relating to the all-payer claims databases (APCDs) which provided a more in-depth analysis than the inaugural report.

State Findings

Maine and Massachusetts received the highest grade, both earning a “B.” Colorado, Vermont and Virginia earned “C” grades while the remaining states were given an “F.” Among the states with an “F” grade, fluctuations occurred in scores among the sub factors. For instance, Arkansas was given a “poor” rating for utility, ease of use and scope, and an “average” rating for accuracy of the data. Illinois received a “poor” rating for all four sub-factors, while Florida received a “good” for ease of use, an “average” for accuracy of data, and “poor” for the remaining sub factors. Most of the voluntary websites were also given “F” grades, with Minnesota receiving the highest grade of “C.”