Have you ever inquired about the cost of a medical procedure or medication in advance of receiving it? What about price shopping to make sure you are receiving good value for your money? It has become standard to compare airline costs and rental cars or even drive the extra mile to save five cents on gas but when it comes to expensive tests like MRIs, we know that most people will go directly the hospital - usually the most expensive option.
An MRI, by the way, can vary in price within the SAME health plan. A recent analysis showcased a spread from $395 to $1,235 with no correlation between price and quality. With more individuals enrolled on high-deductible plans, employers should be arming their employees with tools to be more savvy consumers. If we could influence buying behavior even just 10% towards the fair price opportunities we could see incredible shifts in healthcare trend. While healthcare is a miserably opaque market to navigate there are innovative companies challenging the status quo.
Here are three game-changing tools bringing transparency to healthcare:
Healthcare Blue Book
Healthcare Blue Book offers an online search tool that provides price information for visits, procedures, and medications. It’s simple-to-use interface is available for free by visiting their website or downloading their phone app and entering in a zip code. A premium version is available to businesses which adds utilization data and engagement tools.
Healthcare prices are ranked from Green (at or below fair price), Yellow (slightly above fair price) and Red (higher than fair price). In addition, in-patient procedures have quality ratings as well based on facility. Healthcare Blue Book offers one of the most straight-forward solutions on the market today.
GoodRx provides price transparency for medications. Their online tool is free to use and offers coupons for up to 80% additional savings on certain medications. GoodRx will compare medication prices across mail-order pharmacies, big box retailers like Target and Walmart, as well as membership stores like Sams Club. The tool also compares brand-name pricing versus generic options. If you download the app on your phone you can receive refill reminders and price alerts.
Castlight is one of the biggest names in healthcare navigation and price transparency. Their platform is uniquely designed to integrate with health plans to provide personalized engagement for employees to shop and manage their healthcare.
More technology start-ups and even insurance carriers are entering this arena. With the shift towards higher deductibles, H.S.A.s, and self-funded health plans, transparency tools should be a component of any well-rounded benefit plan