How Much Does It Cost?

By Kate Anastas
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

More patients signing up for high-deductible healthcare plans calls for increased cost transparency and a common cost language.

According to data presented in the 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey, 30% of workers are currently enrolled in a high-deductible healthcare plan. The percentage has steadily increased each year, as only 4% of patients were enrolled in a high-deductible plan in 2006. Because of the greater financial responsibility placed on patients to pay for a larger share of their medical care, federal laws request that healthcare institutions have more transparency of their costs of services. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides resources for hospitals to have more common terminology when discussing payments.

Deciphering the Lingo

Patients often experience sticker shock when medical bills arrive, which is only compounded by a lack of transparency on pricing or conflicting information about the cost of a service. This is why the AAMC advocates for providers, insurers and policymakers to use the same terms when discussing pricing. The AAMC encourages hospitals to use the list of standard definitions created by the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s Price Transparency Task Force. The list includes key definitions for terms, such as care purchaser, uncompensated care and mission-based payment. The list helps all parties involved follow a consistent framework of cost information and patients make more informed healthcare decisions.

To download a PDF of the full list of price transparency definitions, visit