Mass. Health Insurers Offer Online Tools to Compare Medical Procedure Prices

October 15, 2014

Massachusetts health insurers have recently begun providing online cost-estimator tools that allow consumers to compare prices of medical procedures by various health care providers, as required by a transparency provision in the state’s 2012 healthcare cost containment law.

In addition, Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration this week launched a healthcare transparency campaign aimed at educating consumers about these new cost-estimator tools.

The Patrick administration’s “Get the Deal on Care” advertising campaign, which began on Oct. 14, seeks to raise awareness of the new cost-estimators.

The healthcare cost containment law requires that, starting Oct. 1, 2014, health insurers provide an online cost-estimator that shows real-time information tailored to a member’s specific plan, taking into account information such as co-pay, deductible, and co-insurance. This way, a member searching for a common procedure, such as an MRI, or the cost of a visit to a dermatologist can compare prices charged by different providers.

Cost-estimator tools are available online now from all insurers writing health insurance policies in Massachusetts. Consumers can find their tool by visiting their insurer’s website or at the Patrick administration’s healthcare transparency campaign website, www.GetTheDealOnCare.org.

The campaign website was developed in partnership with 13 Massachusetts health insurance companies and many Massachusetts’ employers, providers and consumer groups, the Patrick administration said. The website includes information about the law’s requirements, and provides a link to each participating insurer’s online cost-estimator. The Office of Consumer Affairs also produced transit and online advertising to draw awareness to the law and tools.

“Access to affordable care gives peace of mind and economic security to working people and families; increases productivity for large and small employers alike; creates jobs and contributes to the strength of the Massachusetts economy,” said Gov. Patrick.

“These tools are an example of how industry, innovation and technology can benefit competition and consumers,” said Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony.

“Empowering consumers with pricing information is a necessary first step toward a patient-centered culture that will result in the more efficient delivery of lower-cost, higher quality healthcare services,” said Anthony. “Armed with the missing piece of the puzzle – price – consumers can continue to consider quality, location, and other factors when selecting healthcare services.”

Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Department

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