According to a survey, 60% of consumers looking for pricing information go to their insurance companies. However, providers should prioritize transparency in healthcare prices.
A new poll shows that while not many people are interested in the cost of healthcare services, those who are are are most likely to ask their insurance companies.
The AI for Healthcare company AKASA commissioned the YouGov survey to ask over 2,000 Americans whether they have ever researched prices for healthcare services. If so, how. Only 36% of respondents said they have researched prices for healthcare services. 60% of those surveyed said they would consult their health insurance companies to find pricing information. Nearly half (44%) stated they would visit the insurers’ websites, while over a quarter (29%) would call their insurance company.
CMS requires health payers to disclose pricing information. This includes in-network provider rates and allowed amounts for providers outside of their network. Consumers must be able to obtain an estimate of cost-sharing for specific services or items from a particular provider, for at least 500 items.
The federal government began its healthcare price transparency initiative by requiring hospitals and other providers to publish pricing information for all services and items they provide to patients. This information includes the gross charges, discount cash prices, payer-specific charges and de-identified minimum or maximum negotiated fees.
A hospital must also provide a list of at least 300 services that can be booked in advance. The list should be written in plain English and include any ancillary service.
Hospitals have criticised the requirements for transparency in healthcare prices. They argue that patients would be more able to shop for healthcare services if their out-of pocket costs were known, rather than hospital prices which are very rare. Many stakeholders have asked the government to place more emphasis on hospital price transparency and payer healthcare price transparency.
According to YouGov, hospitals may be partially correct. Consumers seem to prefer pricing information from their insurance companies rather than from their providers. Providers should still prioritize transparency in healthcare pricing.
According to the survey, a lot of consumers look to their providers for pricing information. This includes 39% who stated they would visit a hospital or physician website, and 34% who indicated they could call their doctor or hospital for pricing information.
Another 32 percent said they would search healthcare prices through their patient portal. Respondents could choose more than one answer when asked how they would obtain pricing information.
Survey results also suggested that not all payers provide the correct information to consumers. Nearly 44% of respondents stated that their insurance companies don’t provide pricing information for local providers. Another 34% said that they don’t know if such information is available.
“Clearly, both payers and providers have a crucial role to play. The healthcare industry as a collective must work together in holistically improving price transparency which is a key part of the puzzle for improving the patient’s financial experience,” Ben Beadle–Ryby, cofounder of AKASA, stated in a press release.