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Mass. taking steps to open up the mysterious world of medical prices

THE GLOBE’S editorial on hospital price transparency was spot on (“Prices should be published,” June 17). Everyday consumers are feeling the pinch of spending more money on health care, yet no one knows in advance how much any service will cost. The system is shrouded in mystery. But soon in Massachusetts some transparency will come to hospital and physician pricing.

Last summer, Governor Patrick signed a law that requires insurers to provide a toll-free number and website with price information for procedures among various providers by this October; providers must do the same by January 2014.

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A poll found that 89 percent of Massachusetts residents think it’s important to know health care costs ahead of time, and 79 percent want to be able to get this information on a website. These numbers confirm what we already knew; the time for transparency is now.

The administration is a leading advocate to empower consumers to think about health care services like they would any other major purchase. In order to do this, we are promoting an attitude reset — consumers must feel comfortable asking questions and shopping around. We hope the new price transparency tools will usher in a changed culture.

Barbara Anthony

Undersecretary, Massachusetts office of consumer affairs and business regulation

Boston

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