Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports,1 appreciates this opportunity to provide testimony on the topic of consumers and health care transparency. Improving the public transparency of quality and prices in the health care market – including health plans, health care providers and treatments – would be of great benefit to consumers. These benefits are likely to include:

• greater consumer engagement, empowerment and confidence
• better health from improved practice patterns by hospitals, physicians and other health care providers and better informed consumers

While such transparency is necessary, it may not be sufficient to lower costs or to create a better functioning marketplace. The focus of my testimony will be to offer two cautions.

One: we must understand and acknowledge the complex process of getting from the “idea of transparency” to an actual consumer or provider-facing piece of information for which there is wide spread awareness, ready understanding and that compels the recipient to act on the information.

Two: there are limits to what improved information about health care prices for treatments can achieve – we must be realistic about those limits.

By offering these two cautions, we hope to provide a real world framework that facilitates constructive policy work in the area of increased health care transparency.

For the full testimony, click here.