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Idaho gets ‘F’ for health care price transparency

A group says Idaho’s hospitals aren’t transparent enough when it comes to pricing, and in a recent report, the Catalyst for Payment Reform gives the Gem State a failing grade.

Hospitals in eastern Idaho agree that a lack of transparency poses a problem for consumers.

“One of the biggest challenges in health care is that health care pricing is really kept within a black box,” said Josh Tolman, chief administrative officer at Mountain View Hospital.

The report notes that there is no law requiring hospitals to post prices online, as there is in Maine and Massachusetts.

Tolman said Mountain View is currently developing pricing tools for its website, but that they’ve faced challenges.

“Some surgeries are very complicated to price, and so you have to make sure the patient understands all of the different inputs to put in to understand what the total price of the surgery might be,” said Tolman.

“We can put out prices on a general basis, you know, to have a particular procedure done. ‘Here’s the best case scenario for you, and here’s what your pricing would be,'” said Doug McBride, spokesman for Madison Memorial Hospital.

McBride said they already provide these quotes over the phone, but that they often lead to confusion.

“It’s a very confusing situation for people once they would get their bills and see it being more expensive for something like that, and it’s just because it’s a case-by-case patient,” McBride said.

There were two bills dealing with this issue before the state Legislature earlier this year, but lawmakers never took a vote on them.

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