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People are hungry for health cost information, new study finds

Posted by on March 27, 2015

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Summary: Americans are hungry for health cost information, according to a new study by Public Agenda, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. While this was not a total surprise to us, we are interested to see scholarly papers addressing the things people quite often tell us: “No one shops for health care” and “Most people believe that more expensive health care is better health care.” These things are not quite true, which we know (and if you’re reading this, you may know it too). Read on for details.

 

 


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Insurers and providers get angry with each other, argue loudly

Posted by on March 27, 2015

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Summary: Insurance companies argue with health-care providers all the time over reimbursement rates. But it seems that lately the arguments are louder and more bitter, and that patients are taking the hit. Here are three separate instances from the last few days. The theme is generally this: It’s the other guy who’s at fault.

 

 


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Ear wax removal. A patient tries to know and control costs, but the system resists: Guest post

Posted by on March 26, 2015

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Summary: “A personal account of a transaction that went very badly, and rules of Health Reform were not followed,” reposted here with permission from the author, Cyndy Nayer, who blogs over at the Center of Health Engagement, where this first appeared. Cyndy, an online acquaintance of clearhealthcosts.com, tried to find out what stuff costs, in this case the very simple procedure involving removing, yes, ear wax. Straightforward, common, prosaic. Guess what happened next.

 

 


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What if restaurants billed like hospitals? Our partners’ viral hit

Posted by on March 21, 2015

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Summary: Our partners at WHYY public radio in the Delaware Valley (Philadelphia) have been getting some emails from listeners who are interested in our project to bring transparency to health care pricing. One came from Don Greenfield, who had an eye-opening experience looking at his wife’s medical bills about a year ago. Click through for details, or …

 

 


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Pinder testifies to California State Senate health committee on prices

Posted by on March 19, 2015

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Summary: California State Senator Ed Hernandez convened a series of hearings on health costs in California, and our CEO, Jeanne Pinder, was invited to testify. Hernandez, a Democrat from West Covina, is an optometrist and also  chairman of the Senate Health Committee. The first hearing addressed California’s current programs that are trying to address rising costs. The second hearing focused on cost drivers, including high cost drugs, and lack of transparency. The third, on March 18, 2015, was about impacts, including clearhealthcosts as one of several “innovators that are helping consumers make fiscally sound decisions about health care,” as his legislative aide described us. Click through for more coverage, or …

 

 


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How we did it: Data from scratch, our NICAR 2015 session, via Knight Lab

Posted by on March 12, 2015

Summary: Journalists want to know how we did what we did at PriceCheck with our partners KQED in San Francisco and KPCC/Southern California Public Radio in California. Here’s a description of the project analysis presented at the National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting by our partner Lisa Pickoff-White at the NICAR 2015 conference, as described by the Knight Lab’s own Ashley Wu, who attended the session.

“We know data tells us a lot. We write programs to automate data scraping. We spend hours creating data visualizations that help readers see what they need to see. We use data to make claims and generate stories that are reliable and have impact.Data is important and we seem to be surrounded by it. But that’s not quite true. Sometimes, there is no data? A session at NICAR that really resonated with me was “Data from Scratch: When data doesn’t exist,” led by Griff Palmer, Ricardo Brom and Lisa Pickoff-White. Pickoff-White shared her experience building PriceCheck, a crowdsourced project that KQED launched last year to answer the question “How much does health care cost?” The team wanted to compare and contrast the costs of certain procedures or services with and without insurance. The biggest problem was that contracts between patients and their insurance providers were confidential, so no one could get to the information. Except the patient, that is.” By Ashley Wu, “NICAR 2015: Data from scratch — How to crowdsource data,” Knight Lab, Northwestern University.

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Partners takeover of doc group will add millions to costs, panel says: Boston Globe

Posted by on March 12, 2015

Summary: This is how health care prices rise. The industry has seen a wave of mergers and acquisitions. A high-profile one just took place in Massachusetts, and it’s estimated that it will add $8 million to Massachusetts’ annual health bill because the doctors in the practice, newly acquired by the health giant Partners HealthCare, will bill at higher rates. Click through for an excerpt from the Boston Globe story.

 

 


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We’re featured in a Hastings Center report

Posted by on March 11, 2015

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Summary: “Clearhealthcosts.com has built a searchable database of thirty tests, procedures, and treatments and the prices charged by specific providers,” Susan Gilbert writes about us in “How Much for That Stress Test,” in The Hastings Center Report, a publication of the Hastings Center, a research institution working on bioethics and the public interest.

 

 


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Federal study of transparency providers, including Clearhealthcosts

Posted by on March 10, 2015

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Summary: A study of transparency sites was just released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Clearhealthcosts.com figures in the study, “Public Reporting of Cost Measures in Health An Environmental Scan of Current Practice and Assessment of Consumer Centeredness,” prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center.

 

 


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An X-ray for $34, an MRI for $499, a mammogram for $150

Posted by on March 8, 2015

Summary: More and more cash imaging places are coming across our radar. This one, Premier Medical Imaging, is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and serves patients in the Midwest and also Alabama — with a $34 cash X-Ray and a $499 MRI without contrast, as well as a $359 CT scan without contrast. We don’t know anyone who has used them, but they do have the standard American College of Radiology accreditation. Click through to see a price list.

 

 


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