Consumers' and Providers' Responses to Public Cost Reports, and how to Raise the Likelihood of Achieving Desired Results

There is tremendous interest in different approaches to slowing the rise in U.S. per capita health spending. One approach is to publicly report on a provider’s costs—also called efficiency, resource use, or value measures—with the hope that consumers will select lower-cost providers and providers will be encouraged to decrease spending.

In this paper the researchers explain why they believe that many current cost-profiling efforts are unlikely to have this intended effect. One of the reasons is that many consumers believe that more care is better and that higher-cost providers are higher-quality providers, so giving them information that some providers are lower cost may have the perverse effect of deterring them from accessing these providers. The researchers suggest changes that can be made to content and design of public cost reports to increase the intended consumer and provider response.