The new Massachusetts state health care website: The Boston Globe

“State officials are launching a website that attempts to make health care costs a little easier for consumers to understand,” Priyanka Dayal McCluskey writes over at The Boston Globe. “The long-planned website, MassCompareCare.gov, is scheduled to go live Wednesday. It contains information about health care costs and quality, and includes guides to help patients ask the right questions about their care.’We want it to be a resource for people to make better decisions about health care procedures,’ said Ray Campbell, executive director of the Center for Health Information and Analysis, or CHIA, the state agency overseeing the website. ‘We definitely see ourselves providing a valuable service.’  Time will tell whether the site actually helps consumers navigate the health care system and shop for affordable care. Campbell said he hopes people who use the site send feedback so his agency can improve the website over time.” Important background: Read the full story for the history of such state efforts to control costs and shine a light on costs in Massachusetts. Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, “What consumers need to know about the state’s new health care website,” The Boston Globe.

Notes:

After the site went live, a doctor I know in the Boston area tried to look himself up, but he was missing from the database. He also looked for the price of a nuclear imaging stress stest for a patient, and could not find that.

Commenters on the Globe story were skeptics. Here are a few:

“So we’re still at the mercy of health care profiteers, only now we can go to a website to see one or two pieces of the puzzle. Meantime, the entire burden of navigating this mess falls on the public.”

“I find this website useless as I can’t find my physician or physician group. Nor can I find information on knee replacements. Information on Leapfrog and Hospital Compare on already on the web. What does this add and at what cost to the taxpayers?”

“The health care industry must be one of the least transparent ones. This article (without admitting it) shows some of the dysfunctional aspects – yet regulator think that the least empowered stakeholders, we the patients, will control costs. Prices from 2015? I can’t even laugh. And the article doesn’t even take on the bizarre relationship between real costs and what consumers pay thanks to obscure insurance arrangements.”

Industry reaction:

Becker’s GI and Endoscopy, an industry newsletter, published a post about pricing. The post said, in part: ‘Here is what 20 Massachusetts-based surgery centers charge for a diagnostic colonoscopy. Massachusetts launched its CompareCare website to provide residents a view into the cost and quality of healthcare facilities around the state.”

At a quick glance, these prices look low to us. The site says facility fee, anesthesia and doctor fee are included.

We’ll plan to update here with other related coverage.