Missouri Gets Failing Mark For Health Care Price Transparency

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Missouri was one of 29 states to receive an ‘F’ for transparency in health care pricing in a report card released Monday.

The Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Healthcare Incentives Improvement Institute, both nonprofits focused on payment reform in the health care industry, compiled the report, which looks at the laws in each state.

The organizations looked specifically at three categories of price transparency: charges that states require providers to post, services covered under state laws related to pricing and providers that are required to comply (i.e., hospitals, physicians and surgical centers).

Missouri failed in every category. According to the report, Missouri isn’t just inadequate   when it comes to ensuring transparency in each category — transparency is practically nonexistent in the law.

For instance, Kansas, which also received an “F” in the report, does require health care practitioners and facilities to report medical charges for some services directly to the state (though the Kansas government does not necessarily relay that information on to consumers). Missouri does none of that.

Most states performed abysmally on the report card. The only two states to receive an “A” were Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Both states require all providers to report prices for all services, which then end up on a website that anyone can view.

The problem of price transparency for medical services is not new, and more researchers are beginning to scrutinize it. A study published last month in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that from a random sampling of hospitals in every state, only 16 percent could provide a complete price for a hip procedure. That study also found that prices could vary as much as tenfold from one hospital to another.

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