Medical costs finally see the light of day, thanks to new Web sites

Advocates for lower cost health care have for some time argued that arming consumers with data about the costs of medical procedures would help drive down prices.

Insurers, however, have kept a tight lid on what they pay doctors and other health care providers, arguing that such information is proprietary and disclosure would put them at a competitive disadvantage.

But now a bevy of new Web sites can help consumers learn just how much services costs, reports the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). The sites cull information from a variety of resources, including insurers, government agencies, Internet companies and health-care providers.

The sites, nearly two dozen of them, aren't perfect, the Journal notes, but they can provide a rough idea of typical costs in your area.