An interesting article in a Colarado based newspaper (Rocky Mountain News) last Thursday, looked at an initiative by several Colorado hospitals who have begun sharing estimates of the out-of-pocket costs patients may incur. A move towards cost transparency at hospitals so patients are not surprised when they receive their bills.
Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives, in partnership with Centura Health, is testing new software aimed at letting consumers know what they will pay before they register as patients. This estimation tool should be online over the next year, for anyone contemplating going to one of CHI’s 70 hospitals in 20 states, including Colorado. The estimation tool allows for a specific procedure to be matched against the patient’s specific insurance – and looks at co-pays, deductibles, the 10 percent or 20 percent of hospital costs charged to the patient, whatever the coverage stipulates.
A related article in Kaiser Network last friday, looked at hospital comparison Web sites and their usefullness. Health Policy Experts stated that while these Web sites can be useful they must list more price inforamtion. According to these experts, for comparison sites to be truly useful, they should indicate total out-of-pocket costs including the procedure and any expenses that could accompany it.