Incentives without pricing?

When I get to refilling a prescription on the CVS website I am amused, and then sickened, by the announcement that “Price will vary based on insurance”. When I click on the link “Why can’t you tell me the price?” I get the response in the pop-up as shown in this screen-capture.


I could complain about the fact that they do have my insurance details on file and could at least tell me the the expected price assuming my insurance doesn’t change by the time I pick it up in two hours.

However, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Ask your doctor how much that blood test will be – he or she will likely not even know what the “list price” is, let alone what the negotiated rate for your insurer, or the status of your annual deductible. If you are referred to a specialist you can’t shop by price for the same reason.

This means that all this market based reform which is supposed to incent patients to use healthcare services “more wisely” is crippled from the beginning. If I can’t find out how much something costs ahead of time, how can I decide which is the cheapest. It goes without saying that I can consider various quality metrics to my thinking (some of which are possible to find ahead of time), but come on, be serious! Consumer oriented market based incentives without pricing information – it’s a fallacy.

No comments: