Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky wants a claims database to increase transparency about health-care cost and quality in Ky.

Kentucky has experienced rapid changes in health care since the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the next step is to implement a program that will provide more transparency about the cost and quality of health care so consumers can make informed, value-based health decisions, says a news release from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

A recent Kentucky Health Issues poll found that most Kentuckians think they can find out what doctors charge for treatments and procedures if they need this information. They seem to believe that transparency already exists, but this is often not the case.

The foundation recommends that Kentucky develop and establish an all-payer claims database, or APCD, for consumers and stakeholders as a tool to address this issue of price transparency.

“Clear, factual information about the cost and quality of health care is necessary for consumers to select value-driven care and for consumers and providers to be involved and accountable in their decision about their health and health care services,” says the release.

The APCD Council defines APCDs as “large-scale databases that systematically collect health-care claims data from a variety of payer sources which include claims from most health-care providers,” says the news release. The information includes patient demographics, provider codes, and clinical, financial and utilization data. This information is then made available to the public.

The foundation said it analyzed national and state expert presentations, reviewed studies and held a meeting in October with more than 60 Kentucky leaders in government, business, policy and health care to discuss the issue.

Participants discussed barriers, feasibility, solutions and other factors in implementing price transparency in Kentucky from the perspectives of the consumer, provider, policymaker and researchers. Here are some of their collective findings, according to the release:

  • Current cost and health service information are difficult to understand. 
  • Price and quality data need to be useful to the consumer through simple, useful tools, currently it is not. 
  • The state must be involved in implementing an APCD by passing laws to require the collection and sharing of data and requiring the data to be reported publicly. 
  • An effective APCD would allow estimates and cost comparisons between providers; would include expected out-of-pocket costs and quality measures that can be compared across providers; would have the ability to see spending patterns over time for all enrolled under one policy; would offer individual level data; and would offer health care value-based cost saving tips.
  • There is a significant variation in health-care pricing, and physicians may need an incentive to consider cost when making decisions for patients.
Colorado was one of the first states to establish price transparency legislation, data collection and reporting on a state-wide level. Representatives from that state’s APCD said it was initially funded by foundations, but will use fees to sustain itself going forward.
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