NEWS: Bill Introduced to Bring Price Transparency to Healthcare

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz

HB 123 Would Empower Consumers by Demystifying Basic Cost Information

February 13, 2017

Juneau – Today, Representative Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage) introduced legislation to require health care providers and facilities to post the full price of their most common services and procedures.  Reporting entities would be required to post health care price information on their premises, online, and to the state.

Health care providers including individual doctors and practitioners would be required to provide the average undiscounted price charged to individuals for each of their 25 most frequently performed health care services.  Additionally, health care facilities including hospitals and clinics would be required to provide the same information for the 50 most frequently performed health care services provided at the facility.

The costs of health care in Alaska are significantly higher in comparison to other states and are increasing faster than the rate of inflation.  According to data from Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, the average cost of a knee replacement in Alaska is $10,218 and the same procedure costs an average of $2,042 in Seattle. Knee replacements cost five times as much locally.  For some procedures the ratio is as great as ten to one.

“Why would someone pay five or ten times as much in Alaska for a non-emergency procedure like a knee replacement they could have done out of state?  The problem is that patients don’t know the variation of price in health care,” said Rep. Spohnholz.  “How much something is going to cost should not be a mystery”

These factors create a substantial information barrier that prevents consumers from having the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves.  Rep. Spohnholz believes House Bill 123 could start to change the culture of health care in Alaska.

“While this transparency measure will allow basic market forces to help control costs; we also hope that it will start to change the paradigm of health consumers,” said Rep. Spohnholz, who chairs the House Health and Social Services Committee. “With cell phones and cars, consumers have tremendous power because they can choose an alternate provider if they are unsatisfied with service.  Alaskans should feel like they know what they are getting into when purchasing health care too.”

HB 123 was formally introduced today and referred to the House Health and Social Services and Judiciary Committees.

For more information, please contact Bernice Nisbett in Rep. Spohnholz’s office at (907) 465-4940


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