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Research Letter
December 2016

Association Between Viewing Health Care Price Information and Choice of Health Care Facility

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(12):1868-1870. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.6622

In the United States, prices for health care services differ dramatically within a single geographic location, often without commensurate differences in quality.1 Transparency tools that provide price information to help patients identify lower-cost services are a strategy to reduce health care spending.2 Price information in combination with insurance benefit design that shares savings when patients choose low-cost health care facilities (eg, reference pricing) has led to lower spending3; however, the impact of price information on patient choices for patients in commercial insurance without such benefit design incentives is largely unknown. A prior study reported that payments for laboratory tests and advanced imaging services were 13% to 14% lower among transparency tool users than nonusers but could not disentangle whether this was due to inherent differences between users and nonusers,4 such as educational attainment, which can also be correlated with choice of health care facility.

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