March 23rd, 2012
Reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
UPMC Health Plan will begin offering its members a way to comparison shop for 40 routine medical procedures, the No. 2 health insurer in Western Pennsylvania said Thursday.
The program, offered online through WebMD, will use UPMC Health Plan claims data to provide cost estimates for the procedures at many of the more than 125 hospitals in the insurer’s network plus an out-of-network estimate, said David Passavant, senior director of consumer innovation.
“We as consumers don’t really understand or feel what health care really costs,” Passavant said. “There can be big price differences between hospitals.”
UPMC Health Plan has 1.79 million members. But the cost-comparison tools is expected to be used primarily by the insurer’s 520,000 members who receive health insurance through an employer.
There will also be a quality tool that rates hospitals using available quality measures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other agencies, Passavant said.
Cost comparisons will initially be provided for routine procedures, such as MRIs, biopsies, colonoscopies and mammograms, and for hospitals with high enough volume to give accurate cost estimates. But Passavant said UPMC Health Plan expects to add more procedures and estimates tailored to specific patients. It is also developing a version of the online tool that can be accessed from a smartphone.
Read more at the Trib.