Good information on health care prices and quality is hard to find, according to Altarum and Catalyst for Payment Reform’s 2017 Price Transparency and Physcian Quality Report Card.
Forbes reports that a new analysis by Altarum and CPR points out shortcomings in data on both the cost of health care and its quality.
“We continue to find that most states miss the mark in providing consumers with usable price and quality information,” Altarum’s Center for Value in Healthcare director François de Brantes says in the report. Maine was the only state to get better than an F grade in “both price and quality information,” de Brantes adds. “That means that in 49 out of 50 states, consumers are basically in the dark when it comes to making value-based health care decisions.”
And this is despite the move toward value-based health care that bases reimbursement on the quality of care delivered, rather than on “the volume of care delivered in a fee-for-service system.”
The report says that separate state report cards on health care price transparency and physician quality transparency have provided “policymakers, consumer advocates, and other health care leaders comprehensive information on how readily consumers could find health care price and quality information in every state across the country,” but while price transparency has gotten more attention, quality transparency has not.
The grades for price transparency were based on availability of data sources, meaningful price information, rang of procedures and services, and accessible Websites. Those states earning high marks have the following in common:
Independent and impartial quality measures
Freely available transparency tools
Timely, accurate data
Information comparing a range of physcians
Meaningful quality measures
SEO- and consumer-friendly resources
The lack of a single report combining the two sets of data meant that it was tough to see that “price and quality are conflated in such a way that consumers, even those who question the correlation between price and quality, are led to believe incorrectly that higher health care prices are indicative of better quality care,” the report says. This report does that.
States earning a passing grade on price transparency in the report did so because they have “robust laws promoting and mandating price transparency that offer consumer-friendly, free Websites with meaningful price information,” Altarum and Catalyst executives say. Maine and New Hampshire each earned an A while Maryland and Oregon each received a grade of B. Colorado, Vermont and Virginia received price transparency scores of C.
But when it comes to quality, only California and Minnesota got As, since states were graded in part on whether they had free Websites for consumers containing quality measures that provided meaningful information.
States should be providing information on whether doctors are doing what “guidelines say they should” as well as what kind of outcomes physicians provide and the kinds of experiences their patients are having, the report’s authors say.