Medical bills are daunting, but in Texas folks want the numbers before they seek medical treatment.
But, according to a report from KUT, Austin’s NPR station, it’s not as easy as calling the doctor’s office to find out how much a colonoscopy is going to cost. The report cites a study from national nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization Public Agenda which says while Texans are more likely than residents of other states to try to find out head of time what office visits and procedures will cost, that doesn’t mean they’re as likely to get answers.
David Schleifer, Public Agenda’s director of research, is quoted in the report saying, “We found that 59 percent of Texans had tried to find health care price information before getting care.”
Texas was chosen because “it seemed like, at the policy level, [the state] was the place where there was the least happening in terms of price transparency, compared to other states we were looking at,” Schleifer added.
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While the number of people looking for answers is higher than in the other studied states — New York, Florida and New Hampshire — and the study also finds that 83 percent of Texans surveyed think it’s important for their state government to provide people with comparative price information, there’s no guarantee — or law — to make sure that happens. In fact, there are few policies on pricing out health care costs for the patient in the state of Texas.
Still, the legislature seems to agree with the people who want to know ahead of time how much they’re going to pay, according to Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities. Texas House Bill 307 would require providers to disclose pricing or give patients an estimate in nonemergency situations.
But Pogue doesn’t think transparency alone is enough to protect consumers, and says in the report that there should also be transparent quality metrics along with pricing. In addition, there should be a ban on surprise medical billing.
But Texas legislators are apparently not on board with those provisions.