Welcome to ClearHealthCosts
We’re a journalism company from New York City bringing transparency to the health care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs.
People should be able to know what things cost in health care. If you knew that your MRI could cost $350 or $6,200, maybe you’d choose a different provider. Maybe you’d wonder if your rising insurance premiums were being used to pay high prices for procedures that could be obtained for less money. Maybe you’d think differently about the entire marketplace.
We do this not only here on our home site, but also in partnership with other newsrooms to do deep-dive investigative consumer-benefit projects revealing health costs in their local areas and communities.
Here’s a 3-minute “sizzle reel” from our partnership in New Orleans with NOLA.com I The Times-Picayune and WVUE Fox 8 Live. There’s a fuller description of our work below.
Our CEO, Jeanne Pinder, described our work in a hit TED talk that went on the front page of TED.com. Find it here.
Here is our Patreon page — think Kickstarter, but recurring. Join our community there.
Pinder worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as an editor, reporter and HR exec. She volunteered for a buyout in 2009 and shortly thereafter won a shark-tank-type pitch contest in front of a jury of New York venture capitalists and internet bigwigs to found the company. Here she is on LinkedIn.
What we do
Using shoe-leather journalism, data journalism, investigative reporting and crowdsourcing, we reveal the secrets of health care pricing in consumer-friendly partnerships with other newsrooms, bringing high engagement with our communities.
Some of our partners: CBS News; NOLA.com I The Times-Picayune and WVUE FOX 8 Live television, the two biggest news organizations in New Orleans; The Philadelphia Inquirer, philly.com and The Daily News; 6ABC Action News; WLRN public radio in Miami; WUSF public radio in Tampa-St. Petersburg; KQED public radio in San Francisco; KPCC public radio in Los Angeles; and others. Read about our work across the nation building “community-created guides to health costs” in this overview.
With our CBS News partners, we brought about state-level changes in the New York State surprise and emergency billing law, designed to protect patients. Frank Esposito’s story about how that did not work in his case brought the staff of Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York to call CBS executives and announce that the governor would make sure Esposito’s bills were waived, and that administrative changes to protect patients would be instituted.
After our CBS partners ran their story about mammogram charges, we had a phone call and an email or share every minute one evening. Our story about a software giant that was ordering its workforce back to campus during the pandemic caused an uproar in Wisconsin, the company’s headquarters; the company changed its path and allowed people to continue working from home.
Hundreds and hundreds of people have shared their prices and their stories, with many sending in their full bills and very personal details. Thousands and thousands have searched our database to find better prices.
We set New Orleans on fire! Against the backdrop of Washington events over repeal-and-replace, skinny-repeal, etc., we completely changed the conversation.
Here is an hour-long video with highlights of our NOLA TV work.
We have received hundreds of voicemails and emails, in addition to shares on our special interactive software, and dozens and dozens of in-person interactions that have brought depth to our stories.
In New Orleans, we had stories including one that collected 2,100 shares, Facebook Lives with 12,000 views and up, and immeasurable buzz, as well as these events:
- Hundreds and hundreds of people have shared prices with us in New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Miami and elsewhere.
- We saved one woman $3,786, and several others told us of hundreds and thousands in savings.
- We have CEO’s coming to us to tell their stories, and also complaining bitterly about us.
- We have Deep Throats whispering in our ears, and people sending us love letters of the sort most journalists don’t see these days.
The Louisiana Legislature passed a consumer protection medical costs bill that had stalled every year for the last 10 years — the insurance commissioner told us he had given up on passing such a bill.
The California State Legislature’s health committee invited our CEO to come testify
Our metrics show visits from the US Department of Justice, all the major players in the health care ecosystem, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (a vet was featured in one piece), legislators, insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and many others. We have heard from fraudbusting lawyers.
Pinder is a national expert on health costs and has been quoted in The New York Times, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and elsewhere.
Grants and journalism prizes
The company has won grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, J-Lab at American University, the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and others.
Funding for our work has also come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Lenfest Institute.
We have won a ton of journalism prizes: A national public service gold medal for the top national network public service project from the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi in 2020; a national Edward R. Murrow award and the national public service gold medal for small markets from the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi in 2018. We were a finalist for a prestigious Peabody Award, one of 60 nationwide. We won a Suncoast Emmy award, several regional Edward R. Murrow awards and several Lousiana-Mississippi AP Broadcasters and Media Editors awards.
The company has won many non-journalism awards, including the Patient Shark Tank award at the New York City e-Health Collaborative, and the audience choice award at the Department of Health and Human Services Datapalooza.
What others say about us
“Now health care is getting its Kayaks and Trulias.” Tina Rosenberg, “Revealing a Health Care Secret: The Price,” The New York Times.
When people see this data, [Pinder] says, ‘they don’t behave the same way in the marketplace again.’” “How to Cut Your Health Care Bill: Pay Cash,” The Wall Street Journal.
“People are demanding control over health expenses and treatments, trying to manage out-of-pocket costs and confusing bills, and seeking the care they need at prices they can afford.” Jeanne Pinder, “It’s Absurd That Health Care Costs Are So Confusing,” Harvard Business Review/New England Journal of Medicine.
“The Internet hates secrets.” Us, in Niemanlab.
“A problem hiding in plain sight.” Health News Review.
One of the “benevolent geniuses” working to fix health care, The Billfold.
“11 Everyday Heroes Who Bring Healthcare to Those in Need,” O, the Oprah magazine
“Readers become reporters, and great journalism happens,” Mark Lorando, NOLA.com.
“’How did we get to this place where you ask what something costs and no one can tell you and we accept that as normal?’ asks Jeanne Pinder.” Dan Gorenstein, “A push for transparency in healthcare pricing,” NPR Marketplace.
Summing it up
With data from different sources – from our independent reporting, from health-care providers, from participating consumers and from databases – we are working to shed light on health care pricing.
Don’t miss the blog: there’s a wealth of information there. Use the search box to find what we’ve written about MRI’s, affordable psychotherapy, prescriptions and so on. Try this search on “how much does an xx cost,” or how people saved money.
Want to help? Search and share prices by clicking here, or email us at info [at] clearhealthcosts [dot] com.
Want to partner? Email us at partner [at] clearhealthcosts [dot] com.