NC, NH tackle price transparency

Law, pending legislation requires release of data on common procedures
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North Carolina and New Hampshire are taking similar paths regarding healthcare price transparency, with both states determined to make such data more readily available to consumers.

In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill into law that requires hospitals to publicly report what they charge for the 100 most frequent reasons for admission, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers must also report pricing information on the 40 most common surgical and imaging procedures.

"For too long, North Carolina patients have been in the dark on what they can expect to pay for common medical procedures when they are admitted to a hospital," McCrory said in a statement.

In New Hampshire, legislation has been introduced that would require all providers--whether hospital, outpatient center or physician office--to provide prices to uninsured patients of the 25 most commonly performed procedures, the Concord Monitor reported.

"There are some healthcare facilities that are very upfront and transparent. There are some resources online that can help," state Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem), who introduced the bill after being approached by friends, family and constituents, told the Monitor. "But there's nothing comprehensive, and, obviously, the people that came to me had been really struggling, and they are intelligent, well-intentioned people."

For the past decade, the New Hampshire Insurance Department has operated a website with billing information. However, the Monitor has reported that the website has had shortcomings because it is based on old billing information, and that in many cases, enough billing data is not available. As a result, lawmakers are considering scrapping it for a more up-to-date transparency process.

To learn more:
- read the Raleigh News & Observer article
- here's the Concord Monitor article

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