The federal government would make public under rules proposed Friday the amounts that hospitals and doctors charge Medicare for patient services in order to help businesses decide on providers to include in health plans.
The figures are intended to be combined with private insurer claims to identify the most cost-effective providers, according to a statement from Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly and disabled.
Medicare would release extracts of claims in geographic regions to groups that show they can process the information accurately and safely. The recipients would pay a fee and have to follow security and privacy rules, Medicare said.
"Making our health-care system more transparent promotes competition and drives costs down," Medicare Administrator Donald Berwick said in a statement.
The information would provide a more accurate picture of provider performance than piecemeal data available now that often leads to incomplete reports generated based on health-plan claims, according to the statement.
"Making this data available will empower patients with better information to make the most informed health-care decisions, and it will allow providers to get a more complete picture of their performance based on all of the patients they serve," said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a Washington lobbying group.
Those who qualify to receive the Medicare data would have to make any results generated publicly available after sharing the reports with providers.
The proposal is part of an effort to improve health-care quality and bring down costs under the health law signed by President Obama in March 2010.