CONTACT: Kate Clearwater, PolicyDirector
Consumers for Affordable Health Care
(207) 622-7083, Ext. 1213 (Office)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2016
Augusta – The Maine Heritage Policy Center released an analysis of health care price disparities in Maine based on data collected by the Maine Health Data Organization. While we cannot comment on the accuracy of the particular analysis or the statistical significance of any one claim, we can agree that increased transparency will be good for Mainers.
It is important to stress, however, that consumers in Maine who want to access this information should have access to not only cost or price information, but also to any associated quality measures as well, to enable them to make value-oriented decisions. Surveys have found that many consumers both positively and negatively associate increased costs with increases in value. The best way to alleviate this type of confused perception is to provide the cost and value information hand-in-hand and allow consumers to make health care decisions based on both measures simultaneously. This type of transparency would allow consumers to make fully informed decisions regarding the health care treatments or services they receive and the providers from whom they choose to receive them.
Across the nation, out of pocket health care costs are rising. For employer-based coverage, plan premiums rose by as much as 50% from 2003 to 2013; and individual deductibles rose by 117% over that same period. As consumers shoulder these increased costs, there should be a corresponding increase in transparency, giving individual consumers full access to the information necessary to make well-informed health care treatment decisions.
These increases in cost can also lead to adverse health outcomes for those who struggle with deciding what care is appropriate and what care is not – leading some consumers to choose not to receive care at all. A better solution is to have health care cost and quality information available to all consumers and in a manner that is understandable and usable.
On our HelpLine, we have spoken to many consumers who have been unable to obtain cost information for treatments or services that have been prescribed for them. While we do accept that providing such transparency is difficult for many providers, we believe that consumers should have easy access to this information if and when they want it. Shopping is not for everyone, but everyone should have the option to shop should they choose to.
Consumers for Affordable Health Care is a nonprofit advocacy organization committed to helping all Maine people obtain quality, affordable, health care.