Tag Archives: tests

Reference pricing for ‘shoppable’ health care services steers consumers to low-cost providers

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Source: Robinson JC, Whaley C, Brown TT. Association of Reference Pricing for Diagnostic Laboratory Testing with Changes in Patient Choices, Prices, and Total Spending for Diagnostic Tests. JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 25, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2492.

When Safeway, a grocery store chain, introduced reference pricing for the most commonly used clinical laboratory tests, spending on those tests dropped by 32 percent over three years, according to a recent study.

Using reference pricing, Safeway saved $2.57 million over the three years of the study (2011 to 2013). Of that amount, $1.05 million (41 percent) went back into consumers’ pockets, and the remaining $1.70 million accrued to Safeway, the study showed. Also, reference pricing led to a 32 percent drop in the average price that consumers paid for 285 different lab tests.

The researchers concluded that reference pricing can lead to savings for employers, workers and family members. JAMA Internal Medicine published the study online on July 25. Continue reading