Marleau measure would shed light on health care prices and quality of services

Sen. Jim Marleau introduced a bill Tuesday to bring transparency to Michigan’s health care market.

Senate Bill 333 would create a health care price and quality database. The database would be a tool for residents and employers to compare price and quality when shopping for health care to make more informed decisions.

“In Michigan, 19 cents of every dollar spent is on health care, yet residents have no access to information on the price or quality of these services. That cost is out of balance, and prices do not reflect quality,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “Will we ever have a health care system that rewards value if residents can’t access the price and quality of services? The evidence says we will not.”

Marleau said lack of price transparency is a leading cause of rising health care costs. Studies show variances of up to 700 percent in costs for similar services among different health care providers in the same area. These variances lead to higher costs for employers, health insurance, auto insurance and consumers.

“Residents will be hit hard as well,” Marleau said. “We all are paying about 20 percent of the bill every time we go to a doctor or hospital; it’s not just the employer picking up the check anymore. And the amount we pay out-of-pocket is quickly increasing.”
 
The senator said the state’s record on transparency needs to improve.

“National employers released a report last month ranking health care transparency, and the state of Michigan received an ‘F’ as one of 16 states in which residents have no access to health care price or quality information,” Marleau said. “That has to change.”

Under Marleau’s measure, the database, commonly known as an all-payer claims database, would be a tool to locate cost shifts in the health care market and identify providers who offer the best quality and value. Increased competition would in turn lead to better prices and quality.

SB 333 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy for consideration.