Marleau bill shines light on health care

Health insurance database would enable Michigan residents to see true costs

LANSING―Legislation to provide transparency and give Michigan residents tools to make informed health care decisions was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Jim Marleau.

Senate Bill 1237 would create a health insurance database uniquely designed for Michigan to ensure residents know the true cost before they shop for care.

“Today, we don’t know what we’re paying for health care until we get a bill. Even after we get the bill, we don’t know if we could have paid less somewhere else,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “A health insurance cost database will remove the secrecy from health care costs, creating a consumer-driven competitive market and letting consumers know the real costs so we can make informed decisions.”

Marleau said that insurance companies are already tracking this type of data internally and that the database will not accept or use any personal identifying information to ensure patients’ privacy is protected.

“This is a unique opportunity to empower people without costing taxpayers,” he said. “People deserve to know what they are getting for their rapidly increasing investment in health care.”

The responsibility for maintaining the database will fall under the authority of the Michigan Certificate of Need (CON) Commission. The commission currently collects data from hospitals on the number of procedures performed to ensure cost, quality and access to care for Michigan residents, and maintenance of the database is paid for by Michigan health care providers.

“The goal of the CON Commission is to ensure quality and access to care and to control costs,” Marleau said. “A health insurance database is essential for meeting that goal.”

Ten states currently use health insurance databases, and several other states are in the process of implementing them. The concept has been supported by the National Governor’s Association since 2010.