Alaska Legislature Empowers Consumers with Health Care Price Transparency
Legislative Compromise Results in New Price Transparency Requirements for Health Care Providers in Alaska
Juneau – The Alaska Legislature reached a compromise on the last day of the legislative session to pass a health care price transparency measure originally put forward by Representative Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage). Senate Bill 105 was amended to include language previously passed by the Alaska House of Representatives in House Bill 123 to require health care providers and facilities to post health care price information in their public reception areas and online. Providers will also be required to provide that information to the State of Alaska, which will make it available on the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ website. The measure also allows patients to have the option of receiving a good faith estimate of nonemergency procedures and services upon request from health care insurers, providers, or facilities. The good faith estimate provision was modeled on an ordinance adopted in Anchorage last year.
“Health care is one of the only services where consumers have almost no idea how much it will cost before committing to payment. In Alaska, we have some of the highest health care costs in the nation. I hope this measure can give consumers the price information they need to be informed consumers. This won’t solve all of our health care cost challenges in Alaska, but it’s a good first step,” said Rep. Spohnholz.
SB 105 was amended to require health care providers and facilities to post the undiscounted price with the procedure code of the ten health care services most commonly performed from each of the six sections of Category I, Current Procedural Terminology, adopted by the American Medical Association. Health care providers, facilities, and insurers will also be required to provide a good faith estimate of nonemergency procedures upon request of the patient. The original price transparency legislation sponsored by Rep. Spohnholz passed the Alaska House of Representatives last year by a vote of 34-6.
The health care price transparency language was amended into Senate Bill 105 on the last day of the legislative session and passed by the Alaska House of Representatives by a vote of 29-11. The Alaska State Senate concurred with the changes made in the House by a vote of 19-0. Senate Bill 105 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.
For more information, please contact Bernice Nisbett in Rep. Spohnholz’s office at (907) 465-2696