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 …
Our partner, Rebecca Plevin of KPCC, wrote on her blog: “Last spring, KPCC –- in collaboration with KQED and ClearHealthCosts.com –- started a conversation about health costs in California. We knew a growing number of people wanted to shop around for affordable mammograms, MRI’s and other procedures. But it was nearly impossible to discover the costs. As part of our project, called #PriceCheck, we invited you to share what you paid for certain procedures. In the process, we began building a database of health costs.”
“Yesterday, the California State Senate Committee on Health picked up that conversation. During a hearing in the state Capitol, doctors, researchers and consumers told the lawmakers that despite the federal health care law, health costs are still a barrier to care. More Californians now have high-deductible health plans, Health Access Executive Director Anthony Wright told the legislators. The unintended consequence of this, he said, is people are reducing both unnecessary – and necessary – health care, because they can’t shoulder a large share of their bill….This situation is compounded by the fact that many people who are newly insured with cheaper higher-deductible plans ‘don’t have a lot of experience with the intricacies of the health care system,’ said Neeraj Sood, director of research for USC’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. “They might know that they should ask the price of a procedure, but patients are ‘intimidated to find out how much something is going to cost,’ he said….
“It was against this backdrop that our partner, Jeanne Pinder, founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts.com, shared a more optimistic perspective: ‘The future is here,’ she told the committee. ‘People are actually shopping for health care.’ She explained that hundreds and hundreds of people have shared their health costs with #PriceCheck. The reason? ‘People are really upset’ about the lack of cost transparency in the health care system, she said. ‘They want to talk about it and they want a way to make a difference.'”
Updated, March 20: California Healthline, the daily digest of the California HealthCare Foundation, also covered the hearing.
“Pinder in her testimony told lawmakers that more California residents are ‘actually shopping for health care.’ She noted that it is women who tend to shop around for health care options because of the health-related decisions they must make.
“Pinder said that hundreds of people have shared their costs with #PriceCheck, a project started by ClearHealthCosts.com in collaboration with KPCC and KQED to encourage individuals to share their out-of-pocket costs for specific health care procedures.” Here’s the California Healthline piece.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.