Investigators at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have come out with another of those reports explaining what agents and brokers have been trying to say all along: That patients still have a hard time figuring out what their care will really cost.
Managers of public and private programs want to choose the cheapest, highest-quality providers, and dicker for good rates on surgery, but the providers’ administrative offices rarely provide much information about how much care will really cost, and both public and private cost comparison tools tend to be lacking in detail, lacking in information about a broad range of services or hard to use.
The GAO looked at health care cost and quality transparency programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and a major HHS division, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), at the request of a group of four Senators that included both Democrats and Republicans.
Linda Kohn, director of health care at the GAO, summarized the results of the GAO’s work. Some sections of her report could help agents and brokers come up with ideas for improving their own websites as well as thoughts about ways health shopping services should improve their sites.
For a look at some of the GAO’s findings, read on.
1. HHS has not yet developed a good way to grade the quality of its own health cost and quality reports or other organizations’ reports.
The GAO investigators found that neither HHS nor CMS has clarified how they will reconcile consumers’ demands for clear, complete information from providers’ demands for sensitivity to their needs.
HHS developed a general framework for assessing transparency efforts, but it did not come up with a process for including consumer needs when it develops or selects measures, and it did not define criteria for selecting consumer reporting measures, Kohn writes.