Health
3:36 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Report: Pennsylvania Fails When It Comes to Hospital Transparency

A new report out this week says Pennsylvania fails when it comes to making hospital fees transparent, resulting in patients not knowing what their hospital fees are until they are billed.

Pennsylvania, along with 28 other states, got an "F." Seven states got a "D." Only 2 states got an "A."

The report was compiled and released by The Catalyst for Payment Reform, a consortium of health care providers and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, a nonprofit that works to improve the affordability and quality of health care.

The grades show the quality and depth of pricing data, what a hospital says they bill for a service and what insurance companies and patients actually pay for services. The report says there is often not much correlation between the two.

A decade ago, Pennsylvania was at the forefront in the movement toward transparency with the work the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council has done, said Francois de Brantes, director of The Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council puts out similar yearly report cards. But industry and political hostilities toward the group, along with other states launching easier-to-use websites, has left Pennsylvania behind, de Brantes said.

"Times have almost caught up with Pennsylvania," he said.

De Brantes said the reason the differences between states and how they are graded isn’t because of the different legislation in states regarding transparency requirements, but the implementation of the legislation.

“What the state of New Hampshire, one of the states that got an 'A,' has done with the legislative language is far superior than what has been done to date in Pennsylvania, yet the content of the legislation isn’t necessarily that different,” he said.

De Brantes said the lack of transparency is by design by hospital groups to saddle patients with bills.

“We’re doing all consumers a huge disservice by not giving them the information that they all deserve," he said.

The report can be found here: http://www.hci3.org/sites/default/files/files/Report_PriceTransLaws_09.pdf