Saturday, April 14, 2007

Health Care Costs Becoming More 'Visible'

Can Floridians Compare Health Costs Easily?

LABELLE, FL. -- In an effort to make health care costs transparent to consumers, Florida is one of the first states to help citizens make better health care choices based on comparisons between health care facilities as well as comparisons of drug costs.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's (AHCA) redesigned web site is the first step in an ambitious program. This site ultimately will give Florida�s health care consumers, purchasers and professionals an unprecedented degree of easy-to-access and understandable information on quality, pricing and performance.

Florida Compare Care consists of two adjoining web sites that disseminate comparative health care information to consumers. The MyFloridaHealthStat web site displays price and quality information for hospital services based on risk-adjusted DRG codes. The MyFloridaRx site conveys information on prescription drugs, and anecdotal evidence shows that it is working to lower costs. For example, in Miami-Dade County there was a dramatic decrease in the range of retail prices for the drug Neurontin since the introduction of the price comparison web site.

State governments, in their role as legislator, employer, and payer, are uniquely positioned to advance price transparency on the nation's journey to health care reform.  Price transparency appears simple and straight-forward: most industry stakeholders favor making more information available to consumers. But the complexity of pricing and its relationship to costs in the health system makes this more difficult than might otherwise be understood.

A recent analysis by the Deloitte Center For Health Solutions offers insight about how price transparency can be achieved without unnecessary tension between payers and providers based on fair and accurate ways of reporting prices. To date, 33 states have passed statutes or laws which affect disclosure, transparency, reporting and/or publication of hospital and health care charges and fees.States that have made efforts in price transparency include California, Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Florida has plans to begin reporting comparative information for health plans and individual physicians in the near future.

Health care cost comparisons:
Deloitte Center report (24 pages):

Cost comparisons of 4 day stay in 13 local hospitals

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