Harvard Business Review

How to Teach People About Health Care Pricing

By Jeffrey Kullgren, MD

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

"Health plans, health care systems, employers, and government must move from merely calling for transparency in healthcare prices to taking practical steps..."

Health plans, employers, and state governments increasingly expect Americans to use information about pricing when making health care decisions. After all, the more consumers know about pricing, the better they can budget for out-of-pocket expenses and for routine costs related to chronic conditions, the more intelligently they can choose among providers, and the more easily they can bring pricing information directly into conversations with those providers. Those conversations can lead to more sensible decision making about care, avoiding costly tests and procedures that are unlikely to improve health outcomes. Consumers who are especially knowledgeable and motivated can even negotiate what they will pay for services at their preferred health care facilities, as some anecdotal evidence has shown.