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Demanding to see the pricetag

Imagine shopping at a store where neither you nor the clerk could see the pricetags. Imagine trying to make smart shopping decisions if you first see the bills a month later. It’s impossible. And yet, that’s what healthcare consumers face every day.

Hidden medical prices increasing matter, because patients are assuming an ever-greater share of their bills. And it matters because there are huge savings to be had, if you know where to look. In the same town, the price for the same service can vary by 400 or 500 percent.

Employers are getting fed up too. In the latest effort to address this, a coalition of two dozen large employers is demanding price transparency from health-care providers and health insurers.

They are calling for consumers to have “meaningful, comprehensive information about the price and quality of service” and for employers (who often self-insure) to be able to use their own claims data to design their health plans.