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Report: Oregon Needs More Transparency In Health Care Costs

<p>A ZoomCare health clinic in Portland, Oregon.</p>

A ZoomCare health clinic in Portland, Oregon.

Oregonians need better information about health care costs, according to a new report from the consumer watchdog group OSPIRG.

The report says opaque health care prices mean Oregonians are both paying more and have less ability to make informed decisions.

“Most of us wouldn’t even buy a toaster without knowing how much it costs," said OSPIRG policy director Jesse O’Brien. "But you might be in a position where you have to buy a new knee, or some other very expensive procedure, without any clue what your bill is going to be and we think that’s frankly unjust.”

O’Brien says clearer pricing would help, but it won’t stop ever-increasing health care costs.

“Consumers have the right to know how much they’re going to have to pay, especially as their share of the medical bills keeps growing," said O'Brien.

"Price transparency can help contain the cost of health care.”

Philip Schmidt with the , agrees with the need for transparency. And he points to the ‘’ website, where lots of price information is available. But he said issues other than price are also important, like the quality of care and following doctor recommendations.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.