Most states still failing at price transparency

Not only has there been little improvement in state health care price transparency laws since last year, the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute’s latest report notes that there has also been some regression. This is the third installment of the Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws, in which all but five states received a grade of “F.” Three of these states were located in the northeast region.

Findings

Due to the lack of change since last year’s report, the current report was abbreviated, limited to information about the states that received new grades. New Hampshire jumped from an F to an A due to the implementation of a website that provides pricing information in a consumer-friendly format. Massachusetts’ grade dropped to failing after the government website was shut down and legislation placed responsibility for transparency on health plans. Colorado’s last grade was a C as the state website was in its infancy, and rose to a B with the caveat that the functionality and the accuracy of the website were not much improved.

Transparency barriers

The report noted that there are legal barriers to price transparency and provided some ideas for addressing the issues. Contracts between providers and insurers often have gag clauses, anti-tiering/anti-steering clauses, and most favored nation clauses. Insurers also assert that price information is protected trade secrets. Some states have begun to ban these clauses and barriers through legislation. The report points to legislation in Washington, Massachusetts, and Kansas that require insurance companies to provide price information.