I think that change:healthcare is providing a great service to consumers
Nashville, TN (PRWEB) June 18, 2008
Upstart healthcare technology company change:healthcare today re-launched its cost ratings tool - called a Medstimate rating - which profiles the amount that healthcare providers nationwide accept as negotiated prices for their services, yanking the covers off the medical world and exposing fair pricing for consumer-driven healthcare (CDHC) in the process.
By rolling out pricing models for services from over 2 million providers -- and price ranges for what more than 10,000 medical services should cost -- the company's re-tooled Medstimate system left the healthcare industry with no more secrets than those afforded by a hospital gown.
The pricing data is being released in phases, with hospital inpatient and outpatient service negotiated price ranges being the first - and, to-date, most comprehensive -- data provided. Average regional negotiated price data on all physicians, dentists, chiropractors, medical clinics and nursing homes nationwide have been compiled and will be available on the site. Over time, more detailed price ranges for these services will be integrated into the site market-by-market.
The data has been culled from a variety of up-to-date resources, including the government, insurers, providers, consumers and other sources.
In addition, the company also dropped their access fee to the Medstimate scores, making the service free-of-charge for any consumer.
"This information is just too important for us not to make it available to everyone," said Christopher Parks, co-founder and CEO of change:healthcare. "Many providers are unaware of what a fair price is for a service and, as a result, cost is a piece of the healthcare discussion that patients and providers rarely ever share. Patients talk about something as personal as their health with a provider; why not its financial implications? Making these ratings available to everyone will inch us closer to the transparency that's so badly needed in today's healthcare and help consumers become better healthcare purchasers."
Consumer pricing for healthcare services is an increasingly hot topic. The recently released Millman Report found a 10.5% increase in healthcare cost this year over last year. Most of the increase was absorbed by the consumer and not their employer, part of a shift to consumer-directed healthcare, where consumers are expected to pick up more of the healthcare tab. Studies show that it works to hold premium costs down for employers and more companies appear to be joining the CDHC ranks.
"It's obscene that people can pay a different price for the same healthcare service from the same healthcare provider," said change:healthcare co-founder Robert Hendrick. "I've personally seen a bill for $3,667 that was negotiated down to $385 by my insurance company. Had I not been insured, the provider would have come after me for the $3,667, but since I was insured, they accepted the $385."
Still, costs can vary drastically. For example, the sufferer of a stroke might expect to pay a severity-adjusted inpatient price of $23,502 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.. St. Thomas Hospital, about 5-10 minutes away from Vanderbilt, has a severity-adjusted inpatient price for a stroke of $10,548. And Centennial Hospital, about the same distance from both, shows a severity-adjusted inpatient price of $10,836.
Thus, the beauty of the Medstimate rating, which will help consumers select where they may want to go for more cost-effective care. Employees and employers also have similar access to the Medstimate tool, as change:healthcare recently began offering an enterprise edition of their website to employers.
One healthcare executive likes change:healthcare's strategy of pulling back the covers with its Medstimate rating system.
"I think that change:healthcare is providing a great service to consumers," said Hal Andrews, CEO of Data-Advantage, LLC, a company that specializes in providing information products to the healthcare and business community and with its executive office in Nashville. "At Data Advantage, we know that transparency has already led to improvements in the quality of care that hospitals provide. As consumers shoulder a growing responsibility for the cost of healthcare, increased transparency in pricing will allow consumers to quantify the value of the healthcare services they purchase. As a result, the providers who consistently deliver quality services at a fair price should be rewarded."
"Ours is not an exact science," Parks admitted. "But neither is healthcare. We've simply done the math and identified what appears to be an average, competitive price range for healthcare services and providers which we're sharing with consumers. We openly welcome input from providers on the data. This is not meant to be a one-sided conversation, but, rather, a collaboration between providers, consumers and change:healthcare."
About change:healthcare, inc.
change:healthcare, inc. (http://www.changehealthcare.com) is a technology firm dedicated to promoting transparency in the healthcare industry. The company provides access to a wealth of healthcare information, as well as internet-based solutions such as its medical bill management platform. Their products are available directly to healthcare consumers, third party administrators, healthcare providers, medical bill adjudicators and employers interested in controlling healthcare costs by engaging their employees in making informed healthcare decisions.