Supreme Court Decisions Have Consequences

by Nicholas Bagley — Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2016

In Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual , the Supreme Court held that ERISA trumps state laws that require self-insured employers to share data on the prices they paid for health care for their employees. Predictably, and sadly, those employers look like they’re taking full advantage (paywalled) of the Court’s decision:

Plans that provide health insurance in Colorado, Utah, Maryland, Minnesota and Oregon have dropped out or stopped sending cost data to state programs in recent weeks, officials in those states told CQ Roll Call. Advocates say the states’ databases, which rely on submissions from all insurers to shed light on the cost of care, are an important tool in bringing down health care prices. …

“It’s starting,” said Al Gobeille, chairman of the Vermont Green Mountain Care Board, who brought the legal case to the Supreme Court. “They’re making a statement. . . . It’s not helpful to the health of the populations where their employees live.”

Most states with databases are seeing at least some employer-run plans drop out, said Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, who is convening a group of administrators to work on this issue.

As a policy matter, everyone supports price transparency for health care. Why share your “secret” data, though, if the government can’t make you?

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