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When Is Medical Care Price Transparency a Good Thing (and When Isn't It)?

Transforming Health Care

ISBN: 978-1-83982-957-4, eISBN: 978-1-83982-956-7

Publication date: 26 October 2020


There is a widespread push by government and private payers to make the prices of health care services more transparent to consumers. The main goal is to promote more effective consumer shopping; secondary goals include promoting provider competition and reducing pricing variation. There are several headwinds opposing these efforts. One problem is that there may be several valid reasons for why price variations persist. Another is that provider (and other health care) markets are not very competitive, and sometimes widespread information about prices may make them even less so. A third is that price discrimination may be economically efficient. Any analysis of price transparency must take the specific market setting into account. This chapter analyzes markets characterized by monopolistic, oligopolistic, and competitive conditions to determine when and under what economic and managerial circumstances price transparency will be useful.




We thank two reviewers for their helpful comments, and Faith Hahn for excellent research assistance.


Pauly, M.V. and Burns, L.R. (2020), "When Is Medical Care Price Transparency a Good Thing (and When Isn't It)?", Hefner, J.L., Al-Amin, M., Huerta, T.R., Aldrich, A.M. and Griesenbrock, T.E. (Ed.) Transforming Health Care (Advances in Health Care Management, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 75-97.



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