Insurers launch healthcare price site

Insurers launch healthcare price site
June 05 01:00 2014

USA: Insurers launch healthcare price site One of the biggest problems facing US domestic medical tourism is that comparing prices is very difficult. When hospitals, clinics or agencies seek to promote medical travel from other states, convincing patients that the price is competitive is an uphill struggle. But a new portal will change that.

Three of the biggest American health insurers have joined to create a price comparison site, and others are expected to join the initiative as several have expressed interest. It is good news for domestic US medical tourism, and a wake up call to overseas hospitals and agencies that quote sky high US prices, in comparison with their own, that continuing to use the highest prices, when customers can check US prices for themselves will just take away any credibility they have.

Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare– have teamed up with non-profit Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) to launch an online portal in early 2015 where they will publish information on healthcare prices; the price of treatment, not the price of insurance.

Price transparency is a serious cause for concern within US healthcare as a lack of price transparency means that customers cannot easily tell if they are getting a good deal from their hospital. People expect to pay more in a big city than in a remote town, but prices vary hugely between almost identical hospitals.

Insurers are not doing this out of the goodness of their heart, as they see it as a way of pressurizing hospitals to reduce costs and obtaining US wide price information. It is also to their benefit that consumers can make a more informed decision when obtaining medical care .More comparison tools will be added over time.

The simplest explanation of the start point of the HCCI online is that it will upload price information that insurers have internally. So the more health insurers join in, the better the data will be.

It will take time to build as pricing data will come from commercial health insurance schemes, plus Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans. US healthcare reform encourages the publishing of government-funded healthcare cost data but states that like to be awkward could refuse to take part just to make a political point.

HCCI accepts that pricing information alone is unfair, so cost data will be supplemented with quality and other information to provide consumers a transparent and comprehensive destination to make more informed decisions about health care.

“Consumers, employers and regulatory agencies will have a single source of consistent, transparent health care information based on the most reliable data available, including actual costs, which only insurers currently have,” says David Newman of HCCI.

For hospitals and clinics this will offer new and accurate information about costs and quality that allows them to see information on competitors.

See more at IMTJ
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