In Health Care, Price Transparency Alone Isn’t Enough

Ki Mae Heussner | GigaOM | January 4, 2012

Summary: As startups and consumer advocates push for more transparency in health care pricing, a study in the Journal of Consumer Research looks at how the price of medication can influence consumers’ perceived health risk.

It’s hard to argue that more price transparency in healthcare isn’t needed – especially as employers increasingly shift to high-deductible plans and Health Savings Accounts that demand more responsibility from their employees.

But a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that price transparency alone could lead consumers to risky conclusions about their need for certain medications and procedures. As part of the study, the researchers, Janet Schwartz of Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and Adriana Samper of Arizona State University, gave two groups of people two different flu shot prices, $25 and $125.