By Shaun Boyd
LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)– Shopping for health care could become as easy as shopping for a car. A bill introduced by Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter would require transparency in the pricing of everything from surgeries to prescription drugs.
“You should know going in, if this is a normal routine kind of thing, what it’s going to cost coming out. The goal is that you could do a little shopping… that’s how you get competition, if you have an informed customer,” said Rep. Perlmutter, a Democrat representing Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.
A diabetic, Gail DeVore is forced to navigate the health care system maze daily.
“Every day is another adventure in dealing with insurers and suppliers and pharmacies and manufacturers,” said DeVore.
All of whom, she says, have cryptic cost structures that make comparison shopping impossible, “There’s no competition, no free market involved in health care.”
But that’s changing in Colorado. We’re one of only six states that has some public disclosure. A state law requires insurance companies submit all claim data to The Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC), a non-profit. It released a hospital pricing list three years ago for 13 imaging procedures and is now expanding the list to include everything from cataract surgery to knee replacement to a C-section.
“Price has never been something that we’ve been able to use as a decision making tool so this is the first time that we’re enabling consumers to take some forward control over their situation in the health care space. Most people when they see this, they’re shocked that there’s such a difference… for example, a CT scan in the abdomen pelvis, can be almost $8,000 more depending on where you go,” says Cari Frank with CIVHC. “In addition to price, you can also search by patient experience.”
Perlmutter says that information should be available nationwide.
DeVore agrees, “It would be such a great move forward for consumers to know exactly what these prices are.”
Perlmutter has a Republican co-sponsor for his bill so he is hopeful. By the end of January, you will be able to comparison shop for 36 different common procedures.