Health care prices must now be posted

A compromise reached on the final day of the legislative session will require health care providers and facilities to post health care price information in their public reception areas and online.

Under Senate Bill 105 providers will also be required to provide that information to the state of Alaska, which will make it available to the state Department of Health and Social Services’ website. The measure also allows patients the option of receiving a good faith estimate of nonemergency procedures and services upon request from health care insurers, providers or facilities.

The push for new price transparency requirements originated with House Bill 123, sponsored by Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage. SB 105 was amended to include language passed by the House in HB 123 to require transparency in health care costs.

“Health care is one of the only services where consumers have almost no idea how much it will cost before committing to payment,” Spohnholz said. “In Alaska, we have some of the highest health care costs in the nation. I hope this measure can give consumers the price information they need to be informed consumers. This won’t solve all of our health care cost challenges in Alaska, but it’s a good first step,” she said.

The bill was sent to Gov. Bill Walker for his signature.