In the aggregate, the United States spends far more per capita on care services than does any other industrialized nation. However, understanding the price a consumer would pay for an individual service or set of services is complicated because costs and prices are opaque, not only to the public but often to health care providers, purchasers, and payers.
This lack of health care price transparency presents a serious challenge for consumers, who are increasingly being asked to pay a greater share of their health care costs.
Yet some states and communities have access to comprehensive cost and price information, and these communities are in position to enact policies and track their effectiveness over time, paving the way for progress elsewhere.
This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in August 2012, examines the price-shopping issues consumers and regulators face in the move toward "consumer directed" health plans.
Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.