Price Transparency: Helping People Shop for “Shoppable” Services

September 18, 2019

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

Jane Weber Brubaker

In a TED Talk earlier this year, Jeanne Pinder, founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts.com, describes a situation that is all too familiar. Three members of her family had minor surgery, comparable in scope, each requiring about a half an hour. The bills, just looking at anesthesia, ranged from $2,000 to $6,000.

“It got me thinking,” she says, “and the more I talked to people, the more I realized: Nobody has any idea what stuff costs in healthcare. Not before, during, or after that procedure or test do you have any idea what it’s going to cost.”

The experience prompted her to launch her company in 2011 and give people a platform to share their cost information, compare notes, and shop for the best prices for certain procedures. “It’s sort of like a mash-up of Kayak.com and the Waze traffic app for healthcare,” says Pinder.

Partnering with WNYC, the public radio station in New York, Pinder reached out to women, asking them to share the price they paid for their mammograms. “People told us nobody would do that, that it was too personal,” says Pinder. “But in the space of three weeks, 400 women told us about their prices.”

If the number of views of Pinder’s TED Talk is any indication — nearly 1.5 million views since February — there is significant interest in transparency.

While healthcare organizations struggle to answer when patients ask, “How much will it cost me?”, a few change agents are taking on the challenge, giving consumers the tools to find quality care at competitive prices. Not all healthcare is “shoppable,” but a lot of it is, and pressures from all sides are pushing transparency forward.


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