This is an interesting move.
The growing effort to enlist consumers in reducing health-care costs has been stymied by the fact that most people just don't know what medical care costs.
Private and government health coverage has helped shield them from bills. And even with newer consumer-driven plans that employ Health Savings Accounts, which give people more of a financial stake in the issue, pricing information can be hard to come by.
Now, a major national health insurer is making an effort to change that. Starting tomorrow, Aetna Inc. plans to make available online the exact prices it has negotiated with Cincinnati-area doctors for hundreds of medical procedures and tests. The initiative, which Aetna hopes to take eventually to other parts of the country, aims to give patients the tools to comparison shop and make savvier decisions with their health-care dollars.
I don't think we'll see a major drop in the rate of health care inflation as a result of this, but transparency is definitely a step in the right direction.