health care price tools

Today's Health Care Price Tools Are a Good First Step


The most difficult thing for employees to understand about their health insurance is how much they have to pay when they go to the doctor’s office. The Summary of Coverage outlines what the deductible, coinsurance and copay amounts are for most services. It indicates that out-of-pocket costs are less if received from an in-network medical professional. It states the maximum amount participants pay out-of-pocket in a plan year.

However, it does not inform employees about the many situations that can arise that increase their out-of-pocket costs. For example, doctors who require an office visit and copay to renew a prescription. Or that even though Dr. X and Dr. Y are both in-network, Dr. X charges more for his service which means greater out-of-pocket costs for patients. It also does not remind employees to use health care price transparency tools before receiving care, but employee benefit pros can.

Health Care Price Transparency Tools

Nearly everyone agrees that consumers cannot take control of their health care buying decisions without basic price data. So insurers, non-profits, and private organizations are creating and enhancing health care price transparency tools to help consumers access this data. In fact, before the recent release of Medicare price data, all major U.S. healthcare insurers provided a price transparency tool to its members. And just last week UnitedHealthcare announced it was making its free health care price app, Health4Me, available to the public. The app contains average local prices of hundreds of medical services.
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