Person-Centered HealthCare: ClearHealthCosts Offers Cost Transparency

October 5, 2012
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Everyone knows that cost transparency is sorely missing in healthcare.  Where else would you purchase something and not have a clue what it costs?  In the past, patients have not routinely asked for pricing from their providers.   The reasons for this are varied.  Those with health insurance may figure that insurance will pay, so….who cares?  And people tend to think for some reason or another, that healthcare costs are somehow regulated and there is not much discrepancy between one provider’s price and another’s.

Everyone knows that cost transparency is sorely missing in healthcare.  Where else would you purchase something and not have a clue what it costs?  In the past, patients have not routinely asked for pricing from their providers.   The reasons for this are varied.  Those with health insurance may figure that insurance will pay, so….who cares?  And people tend to think for some reason or another, that healthcare costs are somehow regulated and there is not much discrepancy between one provider’s price and another’s.

This is not so, folks!  And more and more people are finding this out. Those with insurance are starting to pay more attention to pricing because they are afraid that their premiums will increase.  Those with high deductible insurance plans who are paying for procedures themselves want to know what things cost.  And, then, there are those who are not insured at all, or who are using out-of-network providers.

 

Enter: Cost Transparency!

A good website to check out costs for healthcare procedures is ClearHealthCosts.  Jeanne Pinder and her team started their website with the help of grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism;  from the International Women’s Media Foundation (via the Ford Foundation); and from the McCormick Foundation, through the J-Lab at American University.

ClearHealthCosts currently focuses on the New York City region and the San Francisco region and has information on costs of about 30 medical procedures.  They are growing geographically, hoping to cover all major cities in the US and including more procedures as they gather data.

See below for a sample of procedures and costs:

 Image

Pretty revealing, right?

ClearHealthCosts also has an interactive pricing map that gives the range of pricing for a procedure in a specific area.  For instance, key in Charlottesville, VA and Spinal Fusion and see what you get:

Image 

Cool, right?  And you can see how many procedures each hospital does, which is also important.

ClearHealthCosts has other resources as well:

  • A Prescriptions tab, with links to online resources for drug pricing, blogposts about pharmaceutical pricing and generic medications.
  • A Birth Control interactive tab with pricing information by region and by brand name.
  • An Insurance tab with tips and options on finding the best health insurance for your personal needs.
  • A blog with excellent articles on costs in healthcare
  • Useful links to government resources on costs, rankings, medical information and more

And ClearHealthCosts would love your feedback and any pricing information that you can provide.  So visit the site and see what they’re doing and provide information if you can.  HealthCare definitely needs to be more transparent where pricing is concerned; ClearHealthCosts is a great step in that direction!

 

If you like this post, please read other posts in the series on the Person-Centered HealthCare main page.

And if you have a story to tell that may be a fit with our series, please comment below or email me at joan@socialmediatoday.com

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