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Transparent Pricing Could Push Health Costs Down

Michael Dorausch

A new study out of Dartmouth tracks a rise in healthcare costs across northern New England. It is not exactly surprising data. But what is new is that the information is even available.

Between 2008 and 2010, people on private insurance in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont saw healthcare costs climb by 4.5 percent annually.

For just shy of a decade, northern New England states have required insurance companies to report how much they pay for services like blood tests and X-rays. That’s important because, historically, these data lived in the dark.

"Anyone who’s been a patient has gone to the doctor and had a really hard time figuring out how much things cost." says Carrie Colla, health economist at Dartmouth and the study’s lead author.

Colla says making these prices public information could create a healthcare system that is more like other parts of the economy, where consumers can shop for a good deal.

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