A new law in North Carolina marks a major advance in the movement to make healthcare prices more transparent for consumers. It arises from growing pressure on lawmakers and healthcare providers to give the public access to price information enabling patients to more effectively shop for care, thus encouraging price competition.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation that will require his state’s hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers to disclose what they’re paid for 140 medical procedures and services. The prices for 100 common inpatient services, 20 surgical procedures and 20 imaging procedures will be posted on the state Department of Health and Human Services website. The legislation also limits hospitals’ ability to put liens on patients’ homes and forbids state-owned hospitals from garnishing patients’ wages to recoup debts.
“North Carolina sets a new bar in terms of what type of information they require,” said Richard Cauchi, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ health program. Cauchi said that while 10 states have established “all-payer claims databases,” those databases are not intended for consumer use.