Consumer Affairs Issues Report, Holds Second Conference on Transparency

October 18, 2013 in Member Stories

According to a report on healthcare transparency issued by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business regulation, Massachusetts consumers are more likely to research the cost of a TV than to research the cost of their medical care, however, most consumers would like to be able to compare costs of medical services from different providers.

The report details findings from a daylong conference with health care leaders in May.

Conference attendees were also polled on their attitudes about health care, answering questions at both the beginning and end of the conference about how important it is to know costs ahead of time for healthcare services and whether a comparison of prices would affect choices about where to receive care.

The final findings of the break out groups, which are detailed on page ten of the report, shed some light on how price and quality information affect healthcare consumers’ decision-making:

  • Cost is a factor, but not the most important one;
  • Doctors are important and  influential in the decisions about healthcare;
  • Consumers want more  information about price, quality and options; and
  • Consumers should  understand more about the variables that affect their own health care.

One of the key features of the 2012 Health Care Quality and Cost Containment Law signed by Governor Patrick is that it requires that by October 2013 health insurance carriers provide a website and toll-free phone number that will allow members to compare healthcare services and products based on costs, including out-of-pocket costs, allowed amounts, and other price information. Additionally, the law requires that by January 2014 providers, too, must be able to inform consumers about the costs of procedures beforehand.

Now that insurers must make this information available under the law, we in Massachusetts are able to use these tools to make both cost and quality comparisons before choosing providers and make more informed decisions when purchasing healthcare services.

I encourage you all to read the full conference report as you think about the role of price and quality information transparency in your own decision-making.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming Empowering Healthcare Consumers: A Community Conversation Part II conference in Worcester on Tuesday, October 22.  For those who are unable to make it, you can visit our new webpage for information on the empowering healthcare consumers initiative.  We will also have video from the conference up online mid-next week.

For additional information on the May conference at Suffolk University’s Rappaport Center, click here. Click the following links to view our brochures “Speaking with Your Insurer” and “Speaking with Your Healthcare Provider”.

 

To join the conversation on Twitter, use #empowerHC.

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