Patients will now have the opportunity to pose questions such as, “Why do prices paid for a knee MRI vary from $297 to $1,261 for the same procedure at different facilities?” As employers increasingly shift patients to consumer directed health plans this information shifts from being a mere curiosity to a pocketbook issue that a patient can act on. No doubt providers, employers and health plans will hurry to make a thorough examination of the reports –kind of like what happens when you pick up a rock from the ground and hundreds of bugs are exposed to the light and start scurrying around, trying to reorient themselves.
Skeptical readers (I know you’re out there!) may be thinking, ho hum, another state-based APCD launching years after the first ones arose. But the purple (i.e., red/blue) state of Colorado has taken a unique and more valuable path. The Colorado legislature mandated payers to submit data, but the effort is privately operated (by CIVHC) and financed by private health care conversion foundations rather than the government.
Independent financing and governance make a significant difference. Initial reports are being made public soon after the data is submitted, unlike in other states that don’t make the data public at all or do so under major constraints or time lags.
Colorado’s APCD has data on about 40 percent of the population. That will increase to nearly everyone over the next couple of years. The first reports are fairly straightforward and will answer basic questions. Over time, expect CIVHC and users to develop more sophisticated and nuanced approaches to the use of this information.
Policymakers in other states should keep a close eye on the Colorado APCD and would do well to consult with CIVHC to understand what lessons can be applied to efforts elsewhere.
A launch event will take place this morning. Assuming you can’t make it to Denver that quickly, you can follow along on Twitter, hashtag #coapcd.