March 21, 2014
Price transparency has recently become a hot topic in health care. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) remains at the forefront of reform, pressure is increasing to give consumers access to expected patient cost information. Recently, an article in Becker’s Hospital Review discussed a change in Massachusetts law that will require hospitals, physicians, and insurers to provide timely cost estimates to patients. Currently, Massachusetts insurers are required to provide cost estimates to patients who request them within two business days. This was expanded to include providers in January of 2014. The hope is that increasing a patient’s awareness of cost up front will increase consumer choice and will foster price competition. In addition, this information will allow providers to improve patient satisfaction by providing an accurate estimate of cost liability prior to a planned service. Providers can then direct patients to appropriate financial resources to assist with payment. This should reduce write-offs and bad debt, thus improving their bottom line.