The Evolution of Healthcare Price Transparency Tools


Looking back at health care consumers in 2000 versus patients in 2015 is like comparing present day medical practices with an episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Things have transformed that much over the years, leading us to wonder how this evolution happened. The term “health care consumer” didn’t even exist 5 years ago, but with societal changes, health care policy changes and increased health costs… consumerism has become necessary for many patients.

True consumerism is defined by the promotion of the interests of the consumers themselves, but when patients don’t even have a concept of understanding what they WANT in healthcare it makes it basically impossible to achieve. Over the last 15 years, rising health costs and questionable health care quality have sparked awareness for patients, forcing them to start thinking about what they wanted when it came to their care. With the rise of price and quality transparency in healthcare, patients have been able to actually tell the difference between various providers, giving them the power to shop.

“How are healthcare consumers to know which options are best for them?” How do patients find affordable lab work, low-cost mammograms or MRI costs? With the rise of price transparency tools and healthcare e-commerce websites like Save On Medical, patients have the tools to decide for themselves. So, how did we get here?
In just the last 8 years, let’s look at a few monumental changes in price transparency that have affected consumer-driven patients:

  • George W. Bush Administration Introduced High-Deductible Health Plans – 2003
  • Healthcare Bluebook Launched – 2007
  • Congressional Budget Office Issued a Brief on Increasing Price Transparency in Healthcare – June 2008
  • Launched – 2012
  • Catalyst for Payment Reform Releases 1st Healthcare Price Transparency Report – March 2013
  • Steven Brill’s “Bitter Pill” Article Published in TIME Magazine – April 2013
  • Launched – October 2013
  • Deductibles for Family Plan Surpass $17,500 – 2015

Read More: Learn how Employee Programs Lower Health Care Costs

Check out this Infographic From: Vitals Blog – Evolution of the Health Care Consumer


  1. Thanks for the infographic and reference to Steven Brill’s excellent report for TIME. Unfortunately, it’s now behind a subscriber paywall, but you can see a good summary and video intro by the author at
    At Modern Health Talk, I write about health reforms, the future of healthcare, and health tech innovations aimed at consumers, and I see lots changing from a consumer perspective. (See
    Obamacare has become a dividing political issue, but the Affordable Care Act (same thing, by the way) is having a profound beneficial effect on the future by encouraging competition and addressing various issues related to rising healthcare costs. Foremost is prohibiting insurers from denying care due to preexisting conditions, charging more for people who are sick, and cutting off care once costs got expensive. Because of that, insurers need other ways to stay profitable, so they’re encouraging policy holders to behave more like consumers and shop around for the best value.
    Insurers are pressuring providers to be more transparent and are helping consumers actually compare charges up front. They’re even starting to pay for medical tourism, telehealth video consultations, and medical tourism when the cost is lower and outcomes better. In general, the insurers are trying to flip the insurance model away from “prepaid medical care” offered by your employer and instead toward protection against catastrophic illness & injury. Low cost policies with high deductibles are one of the ways of doing that.
    All of this is putting new competitive pressure on providers and their grossly profitable but publically counter-productive fee-for-service model of treating symptoms. It’s encouraging consumers to make healthier lifestyle decisions and fueling a market for practitioners focused on prevention more than just prescribing another drug. And as a result, I’m very bullish about the future of healthcare.

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