HealthDay News — In order to ensure the provision of higher quality care and cost control in a post-Affordable Care Act health care system, data on price, utilization and quality should be made publicly to improve the value of care for patients.

“If we are going to bend the cost curve, a better functioning health care market is critical,” Bob Kocher, MD, from the University of South California in Los Angeles, and Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, suggest in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Noting that many stakeholders in the health care system profit from concealed price and quality information, they have proposed a transparency imperative to help patients better judge the quality and value of the care they are paying for.

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Currently, few patients have knowledge of prices for any health care services, Kocher and Emanuel wrote. Although knowledge of utilization is critical for informed decision making, it is very difficult for patients to discover how many procedures a physician or hospital performs.

Access to quality data is also limited. Price and quality information are crucial to the success of new payment models. Progress on transparency necessitates a change in attitude throughout the system. Payers should make their claims data publicly available, with adequate privacy protections. In addition, personalized pricing information should be available for patients.

“Transparency is essential for patients to consume care from providers who deliver greater value,” they wrote. “The current health care marketplace is ripe for patients to capture large and unjustified differences in price and quality. As more patients do this, we all benefit from more effective competition and health care prices better reflecting value.”


  1. Kocher RP, Emanuel EJ et al. Ann Intern Med. 2013; DOI:10.7326/0003-4819-159-4-201308200-00666.