September 5, 2017

Price transparency tool did not reduce spending for California public employees, retirees

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor’s Note

Offering a price transparency tool to California public employees and retirees that focused on services such as lab tests, office visits, and advanced imaging services did not lower spending, this study finds.

Only 12% of employees used it in the first 15 months after it was introduced, and use of the tool was not associated with lower prices for lab tests or office visits.

The average price paid for imaging services after use of the tool was 14% lower, but only 1% conducted a price search.

Simply offering a price transparency tool is not sufficient for decreasing healthcare spending, the authors say.

Insurers, employers, and states increasingly encourage price transparency so that patients can compare health care prices across providers. However, the evidence on whether price transparency tools encourage patients to receive lower-cost care and reduce overall spending remains limited and mixed.

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