Plans can copy Priceline when they’re designing pricing systems — but only if they make sure patients have reasonably quick access to well-located health care providers.
Officials at the U.S. Labor Department, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Treasury Department have given that advice in a new batch of answers to frequently asked questions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
In the FAQ answer, the officials talk about guidelines for using “reference-based pricing” arrangements. A reference-based pricing arrangement resembles Priceline, but for health care.
In the Priceline system, a consumer names a price for a hotel room at a given quality level in a given area. The consumer then sees, through the Priceline computer system, whether any suitable hotel providers will supply a room at that price.
See also: Feds allow reference-based pricing.