Association Between Viewing Health Care Price Information and Choice of Health Care Facility

JAMA Internal Medicine
October 2016
Sinaiko, A.D., Joynt, K.E., and Rosenthal, M.B.

In the United States, prices for health care services differ dramatically within a single geographic location, often without commensurate differences in quality. Transparency tools that provide price information to help patients identify lower-cost services are a strategy to reduce health care spending. Price information in combination with insurance benefit design that shares savings when patients choose low-cost health care facilities (e.g., reference pricing) has led to lower spending; however, the impact of price information on patient choices for patients in commercial insurance without such benefit design incentives is largely unknown. In a HCFO-funded study, Anna Sinaiko, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues examined the impact of Aetna’s web-based, real-time, personalized episode-level price transparency tool on choice of health care facility for 8 services. The researchers found that among early adopters, those searching for prices on imaging services and sleep studies chose health care facilities with lower prices and incurred lower spending for imaging studies.

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