Children, Families, Health, & Human Services Interim Committee

Health Care Price Transparency Panel Looks at Consumer Needs, Complexity of Price Information

Committee: Children, Families, Health, & Human Services Interim Committee
Author: Sue O'Connell
Posted on February 21, 2018

image of stethoscope

A subcommittee of legislators and stakeholders looking at transparency in health care pricing focused in February on the types of price information that consumers want.

The group heard from panelists who represented community health centers, small hospitals, an insurer, and a private health care provider. The speakers said consumers generally want to know what their out-of-pocket costs will be, particularly if they are being referred to a specialist for care. But the panelists also said a number of other factors affect the decisions people make about where to obtain health care, including the quality of care provided, the distance they would have to travel, whether they have relatives in the town where they'll be getting care, and recommendations by friends and family.

The subcommittee is working on the study of health care price transparency requested through House Joint Resolution 20, passed by the 2017 Legislature.

At the Feb. 16 meeting, the subcommittee members also:

  • learned about the factors that go into the medical billing process;
  • saw demonstrations of transparency websites offered by the Montana Hospital Association for all consumers and by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana for people insured by that company's plans;
  • and discussed best practices in health care transparency laws and websites.

The group will meet one more time to develop recommendations for consideration by the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee. That committee created the subcommittee to conduct the preliminary work on the transparency study.

Next Meeting

The subcommittee will meet next on March 21 in Room 102 of the Capitol in Helena. For more information about the meeting or the subcommittee's activities, visit the HJR 20 Study page of the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee or contact Sue O'Connell, committee staff.

Committee Website:
Committee Staff: or 406-444-3597