How 5 Health Systems Are Tackling Price Transparency

April 27, 2017

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

The nature of our health system in the U.S. is that it is massively complicated, with many variables that impact price. It’s extremely challenging for health systems to give an answer to a patient who asks a seemingly simple question: How much will this cost me?

First a provider needs to know: Do you have insurance? If so, what kind? What’s your deductible? Co-pays? Coinsurance? How much of your deductible have you paid so far? Are you seeking care in-network or out-of-network? Inpatient or outpatient?

A growing percentage of consumers with employer-sponsored health insurance are choosing high-deductible health plans that have lower premiums. Citing data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Becker’s reported that 24 percent of employees enrolled in high-deductible health plans in 2015, up from just 4 percent in 2006. The downside of HDHPs is that out-of-pocket costs are higher, and patients usually don’t know what they will have to pay until the bill shows up.

When consumers are not satisfied with their billing experience, the impact is negative. According to the 2014 Connance Consumer Impact Study:

  • Only 15 percent would recommend the hospital.
  • One in three paid their bills in full.

Hospitals have a vested interest in making things easier and more transparent for consumers. Those that are trying to tackle price transparency are to be commended—it’s not easy. Here we’ll share some examples of the online tools early adopters have developed to give consumers a better understanding of healthcare costs, and what they may have to pay out-of-pocket. Our take? Price transparency online is very much a work in progress, and our hats are off to the trailblazers.

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