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Healthcare price transparency tools seldom used, study finds; more reminders, marketing needed

October 3, 2019

Price transparency tools have been gaining in popularity among providers, the idea being that they can reduce medical spending by allowing consumers access to pricing data — which in turn lets them shop around for less expensive services. A new study published in Sage Journals, however, found that few consumers actually use these tools.

Tracking use of the Truven Treatment Cost Calculator among more than 70,000 families from 2011-12, researchers found that only 11 percent of families used the price transparency tool at least once. A scant 1 percent used it at least three times over that two-year period.

Younger patients, those with higher deductibles and those living in a higher-income community were the most likely to use the tool. Families with moderate annual out-of-pocket medical spending — between $1,000 and $2,779 — were also more likely to use it.

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