On Friday, March 20, 2020, State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced his intention to rescue the State Health Plan with price transparency. Carolina Journal’s Julie Havlak reports:

With the State Health Plan, Folwell blames inflated prices and “secret contracts” for its financial woes. But his Clear Pricing Project was blocked last year, when all but a handful of hospitals boycotted the reference-based pricing that would tie payments to Medicare. 

“Our efforts continue to be stymied by the hospital association that uses cartel-like activities to hide their health care prices for those who teach, protect, and serve,” Folwell said. “People deserve to know what they’re paying.”

Folwell’s attempt to implement the Clear Pricing Initiative failed last year, but he says he will continue to fight for price transparency in the system. Havlak writes:

Last year, Folwell was warring with the hospital system, as negotiations spiraled into personal attacks and things became increasingly tense.

Folwell blasted hospitals for price-gouging and “cartel-like behavior.” He accused them of exploiting state employees with “secret contracts and higher costs.” Hospitals retaliated, while still voicing their support for transparency. They protested they couldn’t disclose prices because of their contracts with Blue Cross Blue Shield N.C…

similar strategy to Folwell’s saved the State of Montana Benefit Plan $13.6 million over three years, without closing the doors of local hospitals.

Havlak quotes JLF’s Jordan Roberts on the importance of price transparency:

“Price transparency is giving the power back to the patients, so the providers have to compete,” said Jordan Roberts, John Locke Foundation health care analyst. “The market reacts to the patient, instead of the patient reacting to all of these market factors they can’t control.”

Read the full piece here. Listen to Folwell and Roberts discuss the Clear Pricing Project and price transparency on JLF’s “HeadLocke” podcast here.