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:

  1. Better informed consumers and patients
  2. Better informed employers that help workers shop for value
  3. Improved ability for employers to monitor insurer effectiveness and eliminate counterproductive middlemen
  4. Public pressure on high-cost providers.