May 14 (Bloomberg) — UnitedHealth Group Inc. will lead an industry effort to throw a spotlight on the prices paid for health care services, making their costs available to consumers on the Internet.

The effort, announced today and organized by a nonprofit called the Health Care Cost Institute, builds on steps the Obama administration has taken to shed light on prices charged by health-care providers. Medicare, the program for the elderly and disabled, released databases in 2013 and this year that revealed what it paid hospitals and physicians, over the objections of both industries.

The new initiative is more constrained, offering consumers a "reference price" for health services in their communities, based on aggregated data from insurers, said David Newman, the executive director of the Washington-based institute. Customers of the insurers will get more precise information about prices, including how much they'll have to pay out of pocket.

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