Why do consumers need to know how much things cost?

Information empowers consumers to make decisions.

 
With the growth of high-deductible health plans and other cost-sharing measures, many consumers are beginning to shoulder a greater share of their own health costs. When consumers become aware of prices, they make more informed decisions about the care they need and avoid care they don’t need. 
 
Unnecessary care often harms patients and is a massive societal burden. Up to a third of our nation’s health care costs ($700 billion per year) is spent on care that does nothing to improve our health. 
 
Most hospital price transparency web sites are intended either for the general public or created by health plans for their subscribers. Read about examples of both. 
 
AF4Q communities are just beginning to report cost data and are experiencing difficulty with defining cost, accessing good data, and reporting data in a meaningful way. (See how AF4Q defines cost and transparency terms.) 
 
Another challenge lies in the fact that consumers equate “value” with low cost, instead of as a balance between cost and quality.
 
Despite the many challenges, researchers say price transparency encourages consumers to consider price alongside quality in making health care decisions. AF4Q urges communities to push on in their efforts to report costs.