Health Affairs: Promoting Transparency and Clear Choices in Health Care

By: Joel White

A funny thing is happening at the intersection of culture and health, and it's spilling over into politics and policy- a vigorous demand for transparency in health care.

Various forces are driving this demand. Even amid the current "slowdown" in national health expenditures- spending and premiums experienced record low growth in 2012- household costs have continued to grow to two to three times faster than real incomes. Looking forward, health spending as a share of GDP will grow more rapidly over the next ten years than it did in either of the preceding two decades.

Growing Costs for Consumers and Businesses

Last year, says the consulting firm Milliman, combined insurance and out-of-pocket spending in an average employer health plan for the typical family of four totaled $23,215- up from "just" $9,435 in 2002. For those newly insured or with new coverage on the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges, a typical Silver plan deducitble is running about $3,000. That means that families still need tools that will help them shop for high-quality, affordable health care services.

So even as policy makers crow that health costs are growing at their slowest rate in years, consumers and businesses are saying that affordability of health coverage is the number-one challenge they face...Read more here >>