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One national report card on health care costs gives Washington state an ‘F’

Washington state has tried to become a leader in adoptng provisions of the new federal health care reform law.

But it doesn't shine when compared to some other states, based on transparency of pricing information and state providers' willingness to disclose health care costs, a national study reports.

Idaho also scored an F.

The report, prepared by the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, a consortium of large firms that pay for employee health care, said Washington state scores an F according to its report card on price transparency..

Only two states scored an A: Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Five scored a B: Michigan, Maine, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado. 

The grades try to reflect how well each state sets policies on requiring providers to list price of medical care. It also looks at how well the state disseminates info, giving points, for instance, for public websites.

The report also values states that require disclosure of actual prices, rather than what hospitals say they bill for a service.

One health care researcher, quoted in USA Today, said that exact discrepancy in fees and more transparency in pricing won't necessarily help consumers.

Modest deductibles and co-payments of any size mean that what the consumer pays does not vary by the provider used,” wrote Paul Ginsburg, economist and president of Center for Studying Health System Change, in USA Today.

He added that more transparency could force up prices, since consumers who equate quality with higher price will gradually shift toward pricier providers.

The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.