It’s tough to shop for health care deals in Texas

It’s tough to shop for health care deals in Texas

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Price transparency isn’t getting better in Texas health care. A report last week gave Texas, along with 44 other states, an F on a scorecard measuring how easy it is for consumers to find out what they’ll be spending — before they get the bill — for medical procedures.

The scorecard, now in its third year, was created by the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, a nonprofit based in Connecticut that’s been trying to steer the country away from paying for health care by volume toward a value-based system.

Price transparency is an important step on the way.

New Hampshire is the only state that rates an A on the scorecard. The state’s website (nhhealthcost.nh.gov) makes it easy for consumers to shop around among all of New Hampshire’s hospitals and physicians. It provides consumers with information on what it will actually cost, under their insurance plan, to have medical treatment. Uninsured patient charges are also covered.

Compare that with Texas. Many insurers now give consumers pricing quotes. But if you want to do comparison shopping online among the state’s hospitals, you’ll get only a rough estimate — and a wildly inflated pricing chart — from the Texas Hospital Association’s txpricepoint.org.

On the website, a knee replacement at Baylor University Medical Center prices out at $45,753. At Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, the same procedure averages $66,193.

These price quotes come from what the hospitals call their chargemasters. Almost no one pays these rates. Insurers negotiate discounts off the chargemasters, and uninsured patients can get discounts of their own.

Read more via Dallas News