Price transparency tools have been gaining in popularity among providers, the idea being that they can reduce medical spending by allowing consumers access to pricing data — which in turn lets them shop around for less expensive services. A new study published in Sage Journals, however, found that few consumers actually use these tools.
Tracking use of the Truven Treatment Cost Calculator among more than 70,000 families from 2011-12, researchers found that only 11 percent of families used the price transparency tool at least once. A scant 1 percent used it at least three times over that two-year period.
Younger patients, those with higher deductibles and those living in a higher-income community were the most likely to use the tool. Families with moderate annual out-of-pocket medical spending — between $1,000 and $2,779 — were also more likely to use it.