Consumers in most areas still have a hard time finding out how much their medical care really will cost.
Linda Kohn, a director at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), makes that case in a new GAO health care price transparency report.
GAO investigators looked at 8 public and private health care price information services and also tried calling doctors’ offices themselves to find out how much various services would cost.
The investigators found that the representatives in many offices refused to give prices for procedures until patients came in for a screening, and that only two of the price information services – one run by a unit of Aetna Inc., Hartford (NYSE:AET), and the other by the Anthem unit of WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis (NYSE:WLP) – could tell patients what the patient’s actual price would be, after taking plan discounts into effect.
Aetna gives discounted prices for 40 bundles of hospital services and 460 bundles of physician office services; Anthem gives prices for 59 inpatient, outpatient and physician office bundles.