by Lynn Doan, Strategic Engagement Fellow

A new website is allowing Coloradans to view transparent price and quality information for selected hospital procedures. Such a site is unique, not only in that it provides informative data from more payers than any other database or public resource, but it is also compiled in a format that is easy to use and review.

The Center For Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) launched its website, called Colorado Medical Price Compare ( today. Currently, the site only offers information for maternity care and several surgical services – such as hip and knee joint replacements; however, the site will grow over the next year with additional services and ambulatory surgery center prices.

With this tool, consumers can easily see the prices for services based on their location and insurance type. They can also find hospital quality and patient perspective information. While the website provides many answers for consumers, it also raises questions, like why is there such significant variation in prices between different hospitals.

For example, Coloradans could pay anywhere from $25,000 to $58,000 for a knee replacement.  Expectant mothers could pay anywhere from $5,500 to $11,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth. The large variations in costs for regular procedures demonstrate that we need greater transparency on health care costs and justification for these cost discrepancies. It also raises concerns for what happens to patients in emergency situations when they do not get the opportunity to compare cost and quality, and may end up paying more for care than they need to.

Transparent health care pricing is a necessary step for consumers to vote with their feet and money in selecting a hospital for a planned procedure.  This website marks the first time hospitals in Colorado have seen their commercial price data and quality indicators in direct comparison to their peers. The greater transparency this brings will increase competition between hospitals and providers to provide lower cost and higher quality care.

This is an exciting time for consumers, providers, policy makers, and community members. Colorado Medical Price Compare is a groundbreaking tool that will allow consumers to find comprehensive information and make more informed health care decisions.

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