Many skeptics of price transparency argue that price transparency tools have relatively low take-up and that most consumers have little incentive to seek out low-cost provid- ers and services. Under the dominant health system structure, the skeptics are gener- ally correct. Most studies show that few patients use transparency tools, and relatively small savings result system wide. However, consumers that do shop, can save a great deal of money. Those who used a New Hampshire price website prior to medical im- aging visits saved 36 percent off the original cost, for example. This shows that policy changes to encourage greater consumerism can produce significant benefits to em- ployers, employees, and patients—enhancing their ability to obtain greater value from their health spending.
Importantly, the skeptics neglect a complete view of the ways that price transparency can reform the health care system. Transparency should have four key beneficial im- pacts:
- Better informed consumers and patients
- Better informed employers that help workers shop for value
- Improved ability for employers to monitor insurer effectiveness and eliminate counterproductive middlemen
- Public pressure on high-cost providers.