More than a dozen hospitals and doctors groups in Wisconsin plan to start publicly disclosing price comparisons for some procedures by this fall.
The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality announced Wednesday that the information is to be provided on the cost of the normal delivery of a baby in the group's 16 participating hospitals and the cost of the typical visit to a doctor's office.
A recent Milwaukee County audit found a wide disparity in charges for similar procedures by different doctors and hospitals.
State Rep. Gregg Underheim, chairman of the Assembly health committee, has said he might introduce legislation requiring that healthcare providers give "reliable quotes" on treatment costs when patients ask for the information. He hasn't yet drafted a bill.
Don Logan, the collaborative's vice chairman, said the organization has been planning for some time to provide the information on costs, and the announcement was not in response to the recent developments. He said the collaborative will examine all the costs for normal deliveries at the group's hospitals, including physician fees.
The information, along with costs for the typical office visit, is to be posted on the collaborative's Web site as an aid to consumers.
Logan, chief medical officer of Madison-based Dean Health System, said more cost information would appear on the Web site later.
"This is very complex, or it would have been done some time before," Logan said. The severity of individual cases contributes to the complexity in making cost comparisons, he said.
The Wisconsin collaborative was founded last year. Participants are Advanced Healthcare, Milwaukee; Affinity Medical Group, Oshkosh; Bellin Health, Green Bay; Columbia St. Mary's, Milwaukee; Dean Health System, Madison; Froedtert & Community Health, Wauwatosa; Gundersen Lutheran, La Crosse; Luther Midelfort/Mayo Health System, Eau Claire; Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield; Medical Associates Health Centers, Menomonee Falls; Medical College of Wisconsin, Wauwatosa; Meriter Hospital and Physicians Plus Insurance Corp., Madison; Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire; St. Joseph's Hospital, Marshfield; St. Marys Hospital Medical Center, Madison; ThedaCare, Appleton; University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison; University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, Madison; and Wausau Hospital, Wausau.