HB 19: Right to Shop for Health Care Services
This bill passed the house 51-22 and passed through unanimously in the Senate.
One of the largest factors driving up health care costs today is the lack of transparency of the true costs of health care services and the lack of incentives for consumers to pursue high quality, low-cost options. Representative Norm Thurston has an idea to change that dramatically.
House Bill 19 authorizes insurance companies to create savings reward programs. This would allow a member of a health benefit plan to shop for low cost options, while receiving financial incentives when the final cost of a service ends up being lower than the average cost of that particular health care service. It is important to note that this does not mandate private insurance companies to comply with this law.
HB 19 does mandate that PEHP, Utah’s public employee insurance program, create these savings reward programs to allow government employees to shop for low cost options. The success of similar public employee programs in other states has led private consumers to urge their own insurance programs to offer similar services.
Often, the costs of health care services vary drastically from one provider to the next. Programs and tools that encourage average citizens to weigh their health care options and consider cheaper avenues will help lower the costs of health care over time for everyone. If HB 19 passes, it might not be too long before you see innovative services like this one from New Hampshire appear in Utah.