Healthcare Price Info & Incentive Bill Introduced in Senate
‘The Alaska Health Care Consumer’s Right to Shop Act’ will lower rising healthcare costs
JUNEAU – A bill to help Alaskans access more affordable healthcare by addressing rising costs was introduced today in the state Senate.
Senate Bill 119 – The Alaska Health Care Consumer’s Right to Shop Act – will not only provide consumers with readily available cost information, but also incentivize them to use the information by ensuring they receive a shared savings check if they choose a provider below the average cost.
“Before my time in the Legislature, I was an advocate for access to affordable healthcare services. Obviously, there is more work to do considering Alaska’s costs are still among the highest – if not the highest – in the nation,” said Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) the bill’s sponsor. “SB 119 will bend the cost curve down over time to help relieve the disproportionate burden of healthcare costs on family budgets, to seniors on fixed incomes, and for employers providing insurance coverage.”
The bill requires healthcare providers and facilities to list meaningful cost information online and onsite. In addition, information must be provided within five days at a consumer’s request, specific to his or her condition, including expected out-of-pocket costs.
The bill also adds a mechanism so insurance companies will provide an incentive – a shared savings check – to policyholders who choose an in-network provider who charges below the average in-network cost. Employers providing insurance coverage for employees will also be eligible for some of the shared savings. This approach will bring down the high cost of healthcare in Alaska by encouraging consumers to shop and providers to compete for Alaska’s healthcare dollars.
“Applying free market principles via cost transparency – along with an incentive of a shared savings check back to the consumer – will help reduce healthcare costs across Alaska over time,” said Sen. Hughes. “I’m excited to introduce this bill to help individual Alaskans, families, businesses, school districts and other organizations reduce their healthcare costs.
35 states have either passed or are currently working on healthcare cost transparency legislation. SB 119 is among the most innovative approaches as a result of the incentive provision, and is expected to bend the cost curve more effectively than other efforts because of this.