NPR stations in San Francisco and Los Angeles crowdsourced healthcare cost data from listeners to reveal arbitrary pricing of medical services
Over the past two years, Dark Daily has published a number of stories dealing with price transparency, or lack of it, most of which involved government agencies or nonprofits concerned about the high cost of healthcare services. This latest effort to shine a light on healthcare pricing, however, comes from National Public Radio (NPR).
San Francisco’s NPR station, KQED, initiated PriceCheck, an innovative project designed to reveal just how arbitrary medical pricing is in California, in June 2014. KQED partnered with Los Angeles’ NPR station, KPCC, and ClearHealthCosts.com, a New York City start-up that publishes a national list of low to high charges for common healthcare services, to crowdsource healthcare cost data.
The two NPR stations appealed to listeners to share the charges they paid for four medical services: mammograms, lower-back MRIs, IUDs, and diabetes testing. Hundreds of people responded to share prices they paid for these services, and thousands of people looked up prices on ClearHealthCosts.com. (more…)
Maricopa Integrated Health System reports that price transparency pays off by reducing uncompensated care and increasing business
Arizona has a new law that requires hospitals, medical laboratories, diagnostic imaging facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, and urgent-care centers to publish the prices they charge self-pay and uninsured patients for the 50 most common inpatient and outpatient services. The law took effect on January 1, 2014.
News accounts report that just one hospital took steps to publish its prices earlier this year. Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will find the experience of Maricopa Integrated Health System to be instructive, as hospital administrators there publicly state that this was the right thing to do for patients in their community. (more…)
Employers and health insurers want more consumers use healthcare cost estimator tools and pride when choosing a hospital, physician, or clinical laboratory
Having put millions of consumers into high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) as one way to control healthcare costs, both employers and health insurers are now challenged to help these same consumers do better at using price and quality factors when selecting providers.
One solution to this problem is to encourage physicians to play a greater role in helping their patients use price and quality when it is time to select a provider. Obviously, these decisions can involve which clinical laboratory or anatomic pathology practice a patient should select when he or she needs medical laboratory testing.
As ACO movement gathers momentum, hospitals and health systems see opportunities in providing health insurance
Hospitals and health systems are getting back into the health insurance business. Not only is this seen as an opportunity created by the development of accountable-care organizations (ACOs), but it may help the clinical laboratories of these same hospitals that serve office-based physicians in their communities.
This trend is another result of the Obamacare legislation. Some hospital systems are seizing an opportunity to expand their roles and grow revenue by once again getting into the health insurance business. Some experts believe this trend is likely to create more competition among insurers.
It may also accelerate the shift away from fee-for-service reimbursement to a global or bundled payment structure. As this occurs, medical laboratories will need to develop services that offer greater value to physicians and patients. (more…)
List of recommendations based on UnitedHealth’s extensive database and experience
Every sector of the healthcare industry is offering both Congress and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) advice on how to reform the system to improve quality of care, while reducing costs. Too often, the search for ways to save money that can be redirected to covering uninsured is a game of taking money from one existing health service and shifting it to another.
Recently UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) stepped into this debate over how to save money. In important ways, it is better positioned to provide this advice than most other entities. For example, UnitedHealth Group is the nation’s largest insurer in terms of revenue. UNH funds and organizes care for 70 million Americans. It arranges $115 billion in health care services provided by 5,000 hospitals and 650,000 physicians nationwide. Because of this, UNH’s Center for Modernization and Reform has collected more data on clinical services provided and resulting healthcare outcomes than anyone else.