Summary: As open enrollment nears, there’s an increase in the number of tools available to help you shop for insurance. I will be using the New York State of Health exchange, as I did last year, and may test-drive some of these tools. Some of them will be better than others; some may try to give you information that lets their creators make money. So: pay attention. Here’s a sampling.
Summary: Diabetes test strips can cost a lot. We heard prices ranging from 15 cents a strip, to $9 for a box of 50 strips (18 cents each) up to $1.50 per strip. A little more than 60 cents a strip is not uncommon. The strips are used by diabetics to test their blood glucose. While sometimes strips are fully covered by insurance, quite often they are not, as we learned in our #PriceCheck project, crowdsourcing health care prices in California.
Summary: Our #PriceCheck project crowdsourcing health care prices in California, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is live at this link. The reporting from the three partners — us at clearhealthcosts, KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC/Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles — has been collected on this Tumblr. For further information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Why is this project not currently on this site? A tech problem: our custom CMS theme doesn’t easily accommodate the computer coding that PriceCheck uses. We’re working on that.
Summary: “Visit nearly any official website for a brand-name drug available in the United States and, mixed in with links to prescribing and safety information, you’ll find links to drug “coupons,” including copayment-assistance programs and monthly savings cards. Most offers are variations on ‘Why pay more? With the [drug] savings card, you can get [drug] for only $18 per prescription if eligible’ or ‘Get a free 30-capsule trial of [drug] with your doctor’s prescription and ask your doctor if [drug] is right for you.’ Why do manufacturers offer drug coupons? Are they good for patients in the long run? Are they even legal?” two doctors ask in a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Summary: “They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury. A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research … found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in. … Edward Frank of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, said he bought a plan with a $6,000 deductible last year through HealthCare.gov. That’s in the high range, since deductibles for popular silver plans on the insurance exchanges average about $3,100 — still a lot. ‘Unless you get desperately ill and in the hospital for weeks, it’s going to cost you more to have this plan and pay the premiums than to pay the bill just outright,’ said Frank, who ended up paying $4,000 of his own money for treatment of shoulder pain.” The Associated Press, Poll: Many insured struggle with medical bills – The Washington Post.
Summary: Crowdsourcing is engaging a lot of news organizations today. While some journalists are nervous about crowdsourcing — “Yikes, we’d rather talk than listen, and what if they tell us something we don’t want to hear? Or something that we know isn’t true?” — we here at clearhealthcosts.com love crowdsourcing. We find, as journalists, that our communities are smart, energized, truthful and engaged, and happy to join hands in thinking, reporting and helping us make something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. We learn great things by listening, so … now we’re going to to an experiment crowdsourcing coverage for our blog.
Summary: “In an effort to slow health care spending, more employers are looking at capping what they pay for certain procedures — like joint replacements — and requiring insured workers who choose hospitals or medical facilities that exceed the cap to pay the difference themselves. But a study out Thursday finds employers might be disappointed with the overall savings. While the idea, known as ‘reference pricing,’ does highlight the huge variation in what hospitals and other medical providers charge for the same services, the report says, it does little to lower overall health care spending,” Kaiser Health News Reports.
Summary: ClearHealthCosts is featured along with 13 other health cost transparency organizations in a post titled “Illuminating Health Care Prices: Organizations to Watch” on the executive masters of health administration online site at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University.
Emily Newhook, the community relations manager for the Milken Institute School of Public Health, wrote: “Health care costs have increased three times faster than wages over the past decade. Just like any marketplace, prices for medical procedures, equipment and treatments vary dramatically among providers. An appendectomy can cost anywhere from $1,529 to $186,990 . A hip replacement could run from $11,100 to $125,798. But trying to determine the actual price you’ll pay — or the one you should be paying — can be daunting for the average consumer. And once that pricing information is available, how can we aggregate and utilize it to make health care more affordable for everyone? Here, we’ve broken down the issue of health care price transparency and profiled fourteen exciting, effective and innovative organizations that support it in different ways.”
Here are the 14 organizations:
- American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation (ABIM) — Choosing Wisely
- California Health Care Foundation (CHCF)
- Castlight Health
- Catalyst for Payment Reform
- Change Healthcare
- Costs of Care
- Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI)
- Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI)
- FAIR Health
- Healthcare Bluebook
- Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI)
- Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute
- Health Care Financial Management Association (HFMA) – Price Transparency Task Force
The full article is here: Illuminating Health Care Prices: Organizations to Watch – MPH@GW.
Summary: Massachusetts is live with its effort to reveal health care prices. As of Oct. 1, insurance companies were bound to reveal what insured people will pay for procedures, and so far the results of those revelations are not clear.
Summary: It’s long been thought that uninsured people were paying the highest prices for their medical care. But that’s no longer true. We are learning that insured people are paying the chargemaster or sticker price, and they’re upset.