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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Coming soon: Insurer price transparency

Healthcare price transparency has been a growing issue as of late. We’ve written on this blog before about studies that looked into the difficulties of obtaining prices for procedures in hospitals. But now the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute is hoping to give consumers more insight into healthcare costs through private insurers.

HCCI is working with UnitedHealth, Aetna, and Humana to give consumers and employers access to cost and quality data. The transparency tool will include prices and quality outcomes for health services in different regions, and consumers can compare the data across different healthcare facilities and geographic regions. Users will not be able to compare prices across insurance plans. Information considered “commercially sensitive” – such as how much an insurer paid a doctor or hospital – will not be available. The tool is expected to go live in the first quarter of 2015.

This could be a potentially great step in getting a clearer answer as to how much certain procedures will cost – provided your insurance company decides to participate. Kaiser Permanente, an original partner in setting up HCCI for providing insurance cost data to researchers, is sitting out the effort, at least for now. Cigna and WellPoint declined to participate, though Cigna left the door open by saying they’ll reconsider if they get full information on potential costs and data governance.

HCCI expects more insurance companies to get on board for the 2015 release. While we can certainly hope they will, it’s possible insurers could balk at the release of their data, or the time, effort, and cost that could be involved.