Access to health-care prices doesn’t lower spending

If people know how much health care services cost, they’ll shop for the best prices and spend less — or so the theory goes. That’s why the Massachusetts law intended to lower costs included a requirement that doctors, hospitals, and insurers provide cost estimates.

But a Harvard Medical School study published Tuesday casts doubt on whether such efforts can curb spending.

The study examined outpatient care sought by 149,000 employees of two large, national companies in 2011 and 2012. The employees were offered an online tool revealing how much they would pay out of pocket for services such as X-rays, lab tests, outpatient surgeries, and physician office visits.

Only 10 percent used the online tool in the first year.

– Boston Globe

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