The Reality of Healthcare Pricing: Price Variance

By HealthCost

Price variance is the term used to describe price differences for the same medical procedure from one facility to another. Customers expect pricing to be consistent. Imagine the controversy if residents of California were expected to pay 400 times more for a gallon of gas than those in New York were expected to pay!

The secret to eliminating price variance in healthcare is in price transparency. HealthCost.com shows you actual costs for actual procedures. Using data from HealthCost, below are five of the most cost variant procedures in the United States.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Talking Costs with Your Doc Shouldn’t be Awkward

By Russell A. Amico, M.D., HealthCost Co-Founder

When it comes to most of the major purchases we make, we readily discuss and often negotiate the cost with a seller. Think, for instance, about used or new cars. We also turn to online resources to find the best deals on a whole host of purchases, from books to hotel rooms. Yet, when it comes to healthcare costs, most of us have somehow come to believe two things—the cost is what it is and it’s inappropriate, or even rude, to talk about anything related to costs with our healthcare providers. Both are inaccurate and don’t do any good.

What you pay for healthcare services⎯be it a doctor’s visit, an imaging procedure or a surgery⎯can vary greatly. Two healthcare providers located on the same block may be close in proximity but miles apart in their pricing. For instance, in one American city, the cost of a diagnostic colonoscopy can range from $1,900 to over $8,000! Which would you rather pay? In some cases, you may want to pay more for an experienced surgeon. In other cases, you may want to know that a more reasonable MRI can be had at a facility a little further down the street. The key is there are choices, and you should be aware of them.

So, when pricing can vary this much, it’s in our best interest to ask about it. Yet, we often don’t talk costs with our doctors and other healthcare providers. We’ve been conditioned to think that it’s somehow wrong to do so. But this just isn’t the case! Our beloved capitalistic system depends on open, free markets with transparent pricing. Besides, every consumer has the right to know just what they’re paying⎯for every single thing they buy, including healthcare. None of us should hesitate or feel the least bit awkward about asking what healthcare services cost. Remember, the answer may mean keeping hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in your own pocket.

So how do you inquire about costs? Here are some tips:

  1. Clear your inhibitions. As noted above, the first step is to abolish any notion that discussing pricing is wrong. It’s not!
  2. Negotiate. Before you schedule an office visit or procedure, ask about the cost. Regardless of what you’re quoted, ask if there’s any “wiggle room.” For instance, if you don’t have insurance, can they reduce the price if you pay cash?  If you do have insurance, see if they are open to accepting whatever your insurance covers with no additional out-of-pocket costs. Remember, it can’t hurt to ask.
  3. Do additional research. Don’t book the appointment or procedure based on your initial conversations. Instead, tell them you’ll get back after doing some price checking. This sends a si
  4. gnal to the healthcare provider that cost matters and you’re shopping around. Search this site, HealthCost.com, and compare prices from other providers in your area. You’ll likely be able to negotiate a lower payment than what was originally quoted.
  5. Make an informed decision. Armed with this insight, you can then choose a provider based on his or her qualifications and your budget.

Here’s the bottom line: It’s your health and your money. You have a right to know everything the doctor does regarding your health. And you have every right to know what caring for yourself or a loved one is going to cost.

So, ask away.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Feeding The Beast

By Douglas Tardio, HealthCost Co-Founder

A recent article in the New York Times identified a concern that “The Health Act Repeal Could Threaten the U.S. Job Engine.” The article suggested that the Affordable Care Act had taken unemployed factory workers and provided them with healthcare jobs.

In fact, the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development for the city of Akron, Samuel D. DeShazior said, “People who used to make deliveries to factories are now making them to hospitals.”

Is this an incredible achievement? Well, let’s take a closer look.

When you subsidize growth you can make just about anything grow. While the government offered money for hospitals to grow and hire more, hospitals were eager to find ways to qualify for these dollars anyway they could. Hundreds of millions of dollars in government subsidies were spread out to any and all takers in the healthcare industry. Hospitals merged and a feeding frenzy to buy up nearly every physician practice ensued—large and small. The mantra seemed to be let’s build, build, build and hire, hire, hire. The government offered money, and hospitals found ways—necessary or not—to accept it.

The result, not surprisingly, is that hospital systems across the country are now the largest employers in many towns. Yet despite this growth, hospitals are no more efficient now than they were before. Quality is no more improved and patient outcomes aren’t much better.

Virtually nothing has improved while hospitals have grown in size and revenues. Those hospitals are still fighting over the same doctors who were already there. Those doctors are still fed up with working ever more hours for ever decreasing returns. Meanwhile, hospitals hired more staff. Lots and lots of staff. Enough to require more space and the need for more buildings. I think by now you get my point: hospitals grew, sure, but what is growing for the sake of growth if nothing else improves?

Government subsidies grew as fast as the buildings erected to justify them and the big healthcare machine grew and grew. Meanwhile, the average American household saw increased healthcare premiums and soaring out of pocket costs. Because someone has to feed the beast…and it’s hungry.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Physicians Can Now Use Technology to Set Rates

By Douglas Tardio, HealthCost Co-Founder

The healthcare system is broken—not just for patients, but for providers as well. Until now, there has never been an open or straightforward way for doctors and healthcare professionals to adjust their own fees or share their actual pricing with their patients. The process has been mostly one-sided for decades. Providers participate in health plan agreements to gain access to commercially insured patients. But commercial insurance has held all the cards. Reimbursements to providers are complicated and rate structures are proprietary. In the end, the physician has little to no control over their rates, how they’re reimbursed for the services they perform and, worse, they have no control over what patients they see. Why? Because the uninsured can’t afford the prices dictated by the government and insurance groups, and they’re limited in seeing only patients within the insurance networks they have joined.

We have a solution—a way to open the restrictions and put the physician and the patient back in control.   

HealthCost, the first network offering healthcare providers the freedom to set and manage their own network prices, is changing all of this. Through HealthCost.com, providers join an open, transparent network where pricing data is readily available to any consumer. HealthCost providers then have the freedom to market their own services to new consumers no matter how, or if, they are covered under insurance. Healthcare providers can now expand beyond their current health plan networks and reach new, traditionally unreachable patients. Now providers can reach the millions of uninsured, self-insured small business, out-of-network and other self-pay consumers.

A vet charges more on the weekends. Why isn’t it the same for doctors?

It’s fairly standard that a visit to the vet is more expensive on the weekends and holidays. The same is true for many other products and services. Pricing varies throughout the week and by location when booking an airline ticket, for example. Shouldn’t these free market principles be the same for doctors and medical professionals?

As part of a free market, healthcare providers should be free to entice consumers with fair market pricing, based on value and demand, not predetermined pricing. Why shouldn’t providers have the freedom to flex when they need to? Just like every other category in our free market, providers should be able to offer lower rates for procedures on days when demand is low or higher rates when demand is high.

Register with HealthCost.com Today

Are you a healthcare provider who wants to gain control of your rates and meet new patients? It’s easy to become a HealthCost Networks provider. Simply visit our provider page and click the “Join Now” button. You’ll be able to fill out a simple form to enter our system and begin the registration process. Once registered, you will be able to check your published rate and make changes as you see fit.

There are upwards of 50 million people that aren’t being reached by healthcare providers today. We believe that when providers control their own rates and patients are given the knowledge they need to make the best healthcare decision for themselves and their families, everyone wins.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

My Penicillin Will Cost What?

By Douglas Tardio, HealthCost Co-Founder

It’s been 75 years since the miracle drug Penicillin has hit the market. This got me thinking. With the media spotlight shining brightly on the cost of drugs in recent months, I wondered just how much this universally known, widely available drug might actually cost today.

My research began where most Americans start their search—Google. After typing “cost of penicillin” into my browser, the first site brings me to a list of what it calls “fair prices,” ranging from $8 for Amoxicillin all the way up to $1,324 for Bicillin. Wow, that’s the difference between buying lunch and making a mortgage payment for many Americans.

Maybe a general Google search isn’t the right approach. So, I moved on and went directly to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.  After all, they are the federal agency with “drug” in their actual name. Surely, they can give me a price, right?  My search resulted in numerous official-looking meeting notes from as far back as 2000. However, after scanning hundreds of pages—nothing on the cost of penicillin.

So why is this so hard? Why can’t we do a simple search to find the cost of a drug, whether it’s Penicillin or its various derivatives? There were so many that I had to find another clinical website just to identify all of them.  By now, I’m more than frustrated that I won’t ever be able to find out the real cost of a single dose of Penicillin. But I gave it one more shot and went straight to a drug manufacturer’s website. Finally, I found a price. But…only for the price of the company’s stock. I give!

So, what is my point? Whether you’re searching for the cost of a drug or a healthcare procedure, the experience is the same. Costs are hidden. No one knows exactly what they’re paying for and everyone gets frustrated. I’ve been in the healthcare industry for 25 years. Understanding why the public is not informed on the costs of healthcare procedures and drugs has baffled me for decades. Which is why my partners and I decided to tackle the issue of bringing price transparency to the market. Although we haven’t tackled the cost of drugs, what we have brought you is a searchable database where you can find the exact cost of a healthcare procedure (from an appendectomy to an x-ray) or an office visit (whether that’s with an allergist or a vascular surgeon) so that you can make an informed decision about who you see and what you can afford.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Imaging Procedure Costs Now Searchable

By Douglas Tardio, HealthCost Co-Founder

We’re constantly adding data and making improvements to HealthCost.com to enhance the shopping experience for healthcare procedures and office visits. For this reason, we’re thrilled to now offer imaging services to our searchable database.

With 34 searchable imaging categories, including more than 300 procedures, you can now comparison shop for imaging services.

What can patients search for?
With the addition of imaging procedures, HealthCost now shares the exact costs nationwide for:

  • 64 episodes of care categories with nearly 850 specific procedures
  • 47 categories of specialty providers
  • 34 imaging categories with more than 300 procedures

The launch of imaging data includes private practices and imaging facilities and will soon integrate outpatient hospital imaging. Although there are other search tools available, HealthCost is the only search tool offering exact pricing; other search tools simply offer average or estimated costs on a local or regional basis. With HealthCost, you can compare per doctor, per facility and make an informed decision on the care you’d like to receive.

And consumers aren’t the only ones to benefit.
Take, for example, a free-standing imaging facility across the street from a hospital. Both offer the same services, but the former may be one third less than the cost of the hospital. With exact rates in easy view, HealthCost not only helps consumers make decisions, but also offers providers the freedom to set their own HealthCost NetworksSM rates and promote their offerings (in terms of specific equipment they use or their individual expertise). We want to strengthen a healthcare provider’s ability to operate in the free market, and providing clear and explicit communication between providers and consumers is the first step.

Where does HealthCost get the quality and pricing data?
HealthCost quality and pricing information is sourced from publicly available information that originates directly from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the entity that sets reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals. Although this data is available to the general public, it is not easily accessible or understood. HealthCost has tackled this big data challenge and solved it with a user-friendly, free-market solution, available to anyone with internet access or a smartphone.

Millions of Americans are faced with high-deductible plans or are completely uninsured – forcing them to pay for healthcare expenses out of pocket. Before HealthCost, there was no way to shop, compare and understand what they were paying before multiple unexpected medical bills arrived in the mail. We’ve changed all of this by giving exact pricing information in advance.

This is the first time this has been done, and it’s about time. Start your search today.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

The $0.00 Copay: How the Industry Disassociated Cost from Care

By Douglas Tardio, HealthCost Co-Founder

Enacted in the 70s – and catching on in metropolitan areas by the early 80s – copays, a component of health maintenance organizations (HMOs), may have been a leading factor in the destruction of our health insurance system.

So why are insurance companies trying them again?

Prior to the HMO, most indemnity insurance plans offered through employers had some type of cost sharing between the employee and the employer. Typically, the employer covered the total cost of the insurance premium and paid for 80 percent of the cost of care and the employee paid the remaining 20 percent. Services were rendered, bills submitted to consumers were laid out on the kitchen table, reviewed and paid. Then, as employee benefit costs started to make the American worker too expensive against global competition, new plans emerged to manage costs…welcome the HMO.

To incentivize participation, a carrot was offered to the consumer. It was called a copay. This dramatically altered a consumer’s out-of-pocket expense from a percentage of the bill to a fixed amount. Typical HMOs would charge $5 or $10 for an office visit and typically $50 for an ER visit. The result was improved access to care but also a complete disassociation by physicians and consumers alike for what the actual costs of care were.

Fast forward a decade to the early 90’s. While consumers liked their copays, they did not like the ever increasing “managed” part of their care. Consumers didn’t like being told which doctors they could and could not see. So, the industry responded (with a little help from our government) and “open networks” – or POS (point of service) – replaced the limited-network HMO model.

Life was good again and consumers were happy. But something began to change. The costs for services and premiums began increasing. How could this be?

Well, when you separate the 100 million consumers of healthcare from the actual costs of that care, there is no longer a system of checks and balances. So, without transparency and oversight, costs started on an ever-increasing trend line upward. It wasn’t all at once; there were good years with little upward trending, followed by bad years of significant increases. But one thing you could count on—healthcare costs were outpacing average salary increases.

Sure, consumers saw technology improvement, new medications, etc., but they also saw a bed in a hospital that went from $400 per day to $800 to $2,000. All paid for with a $50 copay. But not really.

Finally, the weight was too much to bear and costs were out of control so the healthcare industry made the desperate shift back to HMO benefit designs from the 80’s but with a twist—adding an out-of-pocket component of a few thousand dollars that a consumer needed to pay first.

The government thought this might be a good idea so they jumped in with the Affordable Care Act and offered similar products on these “revolutionary” exchanges.  I even think a few government health administration leaders stated openly that consumers liked being told which doctors to see.

Let’s make one thing clear…most people I know don’t like being told what to purchase and from whom – especially when it comes to who they see from a healthcare perspective. Being forced into purchase decisions is considered, well, un-American.

The result for consumers was a double whammy of expenses—paying for health insurance and out-of-pocket expenses.  This cost shifting has caused consumers to have no voice and no choice. We all swallowed hard and took whatever we could get with whatever restrictions were with it.

And just as health insurance started to bring back this cost-shifting (and so called cost-sharing to the consumer), another player took a page out of the HMO book: Big pharma with the $0 copay card. Drugs were now free for me and you! Well, at least that was the argument. Why should the average consumer care what the actual price of the drug is or who is actually paying for it? Again, disassociation for the consumer. Simply put, the pharmaceutical industry is playing a marketing game – attempting to buy off the American consumer and about every politician in the process.

I’m not suggesting all consumers should pay the full load of all their medical costs. But the only way anyone sees value of a product or service is to understand the true cost of that service before discounts or subsidies. Through negotiated reimbursement rates between health insurers, hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical manufactures, consumers are left in the dark on the cost of care and where the tremendous swings in drug and hospital costs occur.

As humorist, P.J. O’Rourke once said, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when  it’s free.”

It’s time for open and free market pricing.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Shopping Without Considering the Cost

By Douglas Tardio, HealthCost Co-Founding Partner

When you shop, how often do you buy without considering the cost? Likely never.

You can comparison shop in nearly every industry from travel to higher education and everything in between. Except, that is, for healthcare.

Consumers are being squeezed into narrow networks with little choice over physician or location. The number of uninsured people is increasing and the number of self-insured businesses is on the rise. Employers are struggling to manage costs in a system where there is no transparency and high-deductible plans are the norm. Finding actual pricing in advance is nearly impossible. There is no easy way to know what charges make up the service and how they affect the total amount you will need to pay if performed at different locations.

All of this has left millions of individuals and families across the nation facing tens of thousands of dollars per person in out-of-pocket costs – and yet they have been left with no tools to help them manage the financial burden. Individuals face decisions everyday with the worry of unknown medical debt weighing over them.

Online and mobile technologies have fueled the rise of comparison shopping tools and we think it’s time to utilize this technology in healthcare.

At HealthCost, we think it’s time for a change.

Through HealthCost.com, we’ve made it possible to show healthcare shoppers actual costs for services across the nation, with price breakouts for the facility and provider. We show actual costs per location, not regional averages. Specific location data is the only actionable data to help individuals make meaningful decisions about how – and where – they choose to manage their own care.

This means that people can now see that a procedure could cost thousands at one facility but just hundreds at another two blocks away. For example, a diagnostic colonoscopy in one city could range from $1,200 to over $8,000. And a range this wide may be from the same physician when performed at an ambulatory surgery center versus a hospital – same procedure, same doctor, but a difference of over $6,000 simply because of the location!

It’s time to allow consumers to see the actual costs of their healthcare in advance.

We encourage you to try it out today. So far, we’ve uploaded data for over 550,000 healthcare providers across the nation and more than 800 of the most common episodes of care. Each month we’ll be adding more data on additional episodes of care, so try a search out today and keep coming back in the future to comparison shop in advance of receiving the care you need.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Time to Address the Real Healthcare Issue – Costs

by Douglas Tardio, HealthCost Founding Partner

Another day in the life of Congress trying to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act equals another day of ridiculous remarks from our political leaders without any actionable solutions for consumers.

Let’s just stop for a minute and reflect on why Congress can’t provide a solution. I’m not in Congress, however, it seems clear — Big Pharma, Big Hospitals, Big Insurance — are all working together to ensure that they continue to provide profits to their shareholders while managing the status quo.

Revolutionary change means winners and losers and none of these players want to be left out. These big players keep their cards close to the vest and so while they publically appear on the side of the consumer, it is always the consumer who gets left out.

We need cost controls but no one is doing it with the consumer in mind. In recent months, we’ve seen private equity firms buying drug manufacturers and sending prices for drugs that have been in the market for over a decade up 1,000%. Congress holds an urgent publically covered panel to investigate; grab their 60 seconds of fame insulting the CEO of the newly acquired pharma company (that’s the one that looks like the deer in the headlights) and then they all go back to their day jobs. Meanwhile, we end up with crippling costs of drugs.

Things are no different with large hospital systems. I’m talking about the big ones (both for-profit and incredibly not-for-profit) that are tucking away hundreds of millions of dollars each year. They are telling us they are being prudent by holding on to these vast sums for when times are not so good. Since the number of individuals with financial debt is at an all-time high and increasing daily, my team is asking when is it time to start giving back?

Please don’t buy into the notion that these surpluses all go to charity care in their local communities…while some do, that’s simply a worn-out marketing ploy to defend profits and the status quo. And of course, we can’t ignore the insurance companies. They have taken quite a beating in the press over the last decade. Their CEO’s have been dragged all over The Hill and back. All that said, it’s not their business model we should be trashing, it’s their inability to control healthcare costs.

The media so often confuse healthcare delivery with health insurance. Defined, insurance is “a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium” and can’t be sold for a loss.  If costs go up the premium goes up, plain and simple. So, insurance companies can either try to manage costs, narrow their networks, or simply write a policy that covers the current rate.

I think at this point they have decided to take the latter approach. After throwing all of their collective knowledge at managing costs — through Pharmacy Benefit Managers (an oxymoron if ever I’ve heard one), propriety network rates with hospitals and doctors, prior authorization on everything and everyone to ensure evidence-based care — and in the end they did what they had to do to hold on to some resemblance of an affordable insurance product by shifting massive first dollar costs onto the shoulders of consumers.

And yes, it’s complex…but so is everything else in our world. So, I will leave you with a quote from Willie Sutton in response to why he robbed banks, “Because that’s where the money is”.

It’s time for Congress to get serious…it’s our money and we are being robbed.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Let the Free Market Rules. In Healthcare.

by HealthCost

The free market. It’s arguably the single most important factor behind the global dominance of the American economy.  Yet one very large segment remains stubbornly on the edges, if not totally outside, our free market system: healthcare.

While open pricing and comparison shopping exist in every other area of our economy -from credit cards to cars – you won’t find them in healthcare.

It’s absolutely stunning to think that in America today the actual costs of goods and services are largely hidden from healthcare consumers.

This means that people are unaware that a procedure could cost thousands at one facility but just hundreds at another two blocks away. For example, a diagnostic colonoscopy ranges from $1,700 to over $17,000. And a range this wide may be from the same physician when performed at an ambulatory surgery center versus a hospital – same procedure, same doctor, but a difference of thousands of dollars simply because of the location! There’s no other way to say it: That’s nuts!

Conditions are equally mind-boggling for healthcare providers. They participate in health plan agreements in order to see commercially insured patients. But commercial insurance holds all the cards. The result? Reimbursements to providers are complicated and rate structures are proprietary.  In addition, there is no open or easy way for doctors and healthcare professionals to adjust their own fees or share their actual pricing with their patients. Nor can they compete for patients who are uninsured or simply out of network.

This is ludicrous.

When consumers don’t know what providers are actually being paid for their goods and services and when providers can’t adjust their pricing based on market conditions, no one wins, especially individual Americans in their time of need. It’s just not right.

So, we decided to do something about it.

Because, change is possible, folks. In fact, change is here.

It’s called HealthCost.

HealthCost is the only network offering an open marketplace for setting, comparing and locking-in healthcare costs. Like other transparent, open markets, consumers and providers (as buyers and sellers) now mutually drive costs and demand.

HealthCost providers have the freedom to set their own HealthCost network rates and reach new consumers, no matter how, or if, they are insured.

HealthCost consumers have the freedom to comparison shop and lock-in rates with any provider they choose.

This is a big, big deal because – it’s worth mentioning again – walking in one provider’s door can cost several hundred dollars while walking in another door nearby can cost thousands. We think consumers should know what the costs are in advance so they can make informed decisions about their own care.

There are other online sources out there right now offering price transparency but they only share average costs. We applaud this, but it is a passive transparency.

Average costs can do a disservice to the consumer. Say a colonoscopy at one location costs $1,200 and at another location it cost nine thousand. If we tell a consumer the average cost of a colonoscopy is $5,100, is that helpful, is it actionable? We don’t think so. Instead we believe you must take the next step and share all prices fairly and openly, which is what HealthCost does.

We’re offering active transparency. We’ve taken national pricing data and made it actionable for patients and providers.

Through our mobile app and HealthCost.com, pricing data is available to all. Any consumer can access the network, compare prices and offerings and make a decision to use or not use the network.

HealthCost provides plenty of freedom for providers, too. In fact, HealthCost providers are free to set their own prices and reach new patients no matter how, or even if, they are insured.

This may all seem like common sense – and it is – but it’s revolutionary in healthcare. Using HealthCost is kind of like, well, buying an airline ticket or a car. You shop, you compare, you know what you’re paying for.

There are industry pundits that claim healthcare is too complex for consumers to understand. We think that decision should be made by an individual not an institution.

To be clear, HealthCost is not about driving pricing to some ugly bottom. To the contrary, HealthCost is about stopping the endless cycle of cost shifting that always leaves the doctors and patients on the losing end. HealthCost is also about freeing the market to do what markets do best: establish mutually agreed upon, fair pricing.

In addition, HealthCost does not seek to replace or interfere with any other network. Providers are welcome to be a member of the HealthCost network as well as others they wish. The market-driven reason for providers to join our network is that it provides access to millions of patients. It gives providers the freedom to determine the mix of patients and reimbursements that’s right for them.

Free markets are essential to the success of the American economy.

In short, free markets rule!

And it’s time for them to do so in healthcare, which is why we’ve launched HealthCost.

Please participate—healthcare providers and consumers—and let us know what you think. Download our app or peruse through our site to find out how HealthCost puts you in control.

Thank you. And be well!

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.