Price Transparency For MRIs Increased Use Of Less Costly Providers And Triggered Provider Competition
Author: Sze-jung Wu, Gosia Sylwestrzak, Christiane Shah, Andrea DeVries
To encourage patients to select high-value providers, an insurer-initiated price transparency program that focused on elective advanced imaging procedures was implemented. Patients having at least one outpatient magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan in 2010 or 2012 were divided according to their membership in commercial health plans participating in the program (the intervention group) or in nonparticipating commercial health plans (the reference group) in similar US geographic regions. Patients in the intervention group were informed of price differences among available MRI facilities and given the option of selecting different providers. For those patients, the program resulted in a $220 cost reduction (18.7 percent) per test and a decrease in use of hospital-based facilities from 53 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2012. Price variation between hospital and nonhospital facilities for the intervention group was reduced by 30 percent after implementation. Nonparticipating members residing in intervention areas also observed price reductions, which indicates increased price competition among providers. The program significantly reduced imaging costs. This suggests that patients select lower-price facilities when informed about available alternatives.