Making Health Care Costs More Transparent to Consumers: A Summary for Policymakers

Publication Date: February 2008

Publisher: California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Susan Baird Kanaan

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


Health care price information, to be most useful to consumers, should be tailored to a specific audience and include provider and treatment option comparisons. But there are some downsides to price transparency, such as provider fears of antitrust violations and the possibility of inadvertently contributing to a rise in prices. Some states have launched Web sites that post local retail pharmacy drug prices to help inform consumers about costs, however a study finds extensive gaps in these price comparisons. Requiring pharmacies to submit price lists to the states would improve the usefulness of price information, the study finds, but pharmacies typically oppose such a mandate. CHCF has published two fact sheets that summarize the important findings of two studies. The first focuses on what policymakers need to know about reporting health care prices to consumers. The second focuses on key policy options for states seeking to help consumers reduce prescription drug costs. These facts sheets were drawn from a study by the National Quality Forum (NQF), published with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation; and from a study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), funded by CHCF.