The CMS has updated its Web site to include new payment information for some of the most common medical procedures performed in physician offices and hospital outpatient departments while tightening its efforts to make that data of more use to the consumer.
Information on the price for procedures such as hip and knee replacement and prostate removal is compared on the community level and is updated quarterly, according to a CMS spokesman. On its most recent update, the CMS included additional materials and a consumer's guide on how beneficiaries can best wade through the data, he said.
The data include payment rates for more than 70 physician services rendered in nonoffice settings, as well as 19 services usually performed in a physician's office, according to the CMS.
More broadly, the move to post the data is in lock step with a larger healthcare initiative spearheaded by the HHS and the CMS. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said he wants price and quality information readily available to consumers so they can make the best decisions about where to receive care.
An avid believer in consumer choice, Leavitt points to the advances of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, or Part D, as proof that individual choice is working to drive down costs and boost quality.
Last week in Washington, the secretary outlined a multipronged approach to achieve his healthcare vision, which includes active participation by patients, large private employers, the federal government and hospitals and physicians to change how healthcare is delivered. Key among the initiative is cost and quality transparency, Leavitt has said.
Last week, he asked for and received backing of the nation's largest employers to help sway physicians and payers to participate in the initiative and to reward employees who consistently use high-quality, low-cost care.
"Individuals make better decisions about their healthcare than the government does," Leavitt said.