The cost of medical care in the United States has been rising steadily over the last several decades, far outstripping the rate of inflation. While much of this cost has produced innovations that extend life and improve human functioning, there is substantial evidence that more efficient use of resources could produce significant savings without adversely affecting the quality of care. In addition, the health reform law and other payment innovations are expected to reshape health care delivery by aligning provider, purchaser, and consumer incentives to encourage more efficient, evidence-based care. Public reporting of cost and use information can help payers (including health plans and employers), providers (including hospitals and clinicians), and consumers (including patients and their families) navigate this changing environment.

While demand for cost and resource use information among payers, providers, and consumers appears to be increasing, its value may not be fully realized by some—or all—of these
stakeholder groups in each community.