myHealthcare Cost Estimator Now Offers Quality and Cost Information for Inpatient Services

November 20, 2013
  • Now available: easy-to-understand estimates for more than 550 services across more than 220 "episodes of care"
  • Personalized, integrated health care decision support to more than 21 million consumers nationwide
  • Cost estimates based on physicians' and hospitals' actual contracted rates, not estimates like some other tools

Consumers can now comparison shop, based on quality and cost, for inpatient medical services using new features of UnitedHealthcare's myHealthcare Cost Estimator™, an integrated online and mobile tool.

UnitedHealthcare is among the first national health care companies to enable consumers to comparison shop for inpatient medical services, including knee replacement, spinal surgery and childbirth.

myHealthcare Cost Estimator – free to employers and plan participants at and through the Health4Me app – helps consumers find quality care while being able to estimate the cost of more than 550 common services across more than 220 "episodes of care." Estimates are personalized to reflect an individual's own health plan benefits, including his or her real-time account balances when applicable, and provide a comprehensive view of what consumers should expect throughout their course of treatment.

myHealthcare Cost Estimator provides plan participants the ability to compare quality and cost information for approximately 540,000 health care professionals and 4,500 hospitals.

There are significant price variations for health care services and procedures at hospitals and doctors' offices nationwide. For example, the total cost for childbirth, including prenatal and postnatal care, at hospitals in the New York City area can be between $9,699 and $29,076. For lumbar fusion surgery in San Francisco, the cost ranges from $59,090 to $77,390 at area health care facilities.

Since myHealthcare Cost Estimator launched last year, thousands of consumers have used the tool to compare the quality and cost of various treatments and services, generating more than $200 million in estimates.
In a recent survey of myHealthcare Cost Estimator users, 67 percent of the people surveyed said the tool gave them confidence to make better cost choices, and 84 percent said they would use it again.

The online and mobile service is more precise than cost estimation tools that may rely only on historical claims data or provide estimates based on geographic average. myHealthcare Cost Estimator primarily draws on the company's actual contracted rates with physicians, hospitals, clinics and other health care providers, giving consumers more accurate pricing information.

"Adding inpatient services enables myHealthcare Cost Estimator to provide consumers even more crucial information that is personalized, relevant and accurate," said Yasmine Winkler, chief product, marketing and innovation officer, UnitedHealthcare. "myHealthcare Cost Estimator enables people to make better care decisions, by better understanding their treatment options, comparing services and anticipating future costs."

Employers have embraced myHealthcare Cost Estimator as an important capability to engage employees and more effectively manage health care costs. Some employers are taking steps to encourage employees to use the tool, featuring it through webinars, health fairs, mailing campaigns and other marketing efforts.

"Empowering our employees with tools and information that improves their health is key to Nationwide Insurance, and the myHealthcare Cost Estimator is a perfect example of that," said Kathleen Herath, associate vice president of health and productivity at Nationwide Insurance. "We are taking specific and strategic steps to help our workforce use myHealthcare Cost Estimator, which encourages them to make more informed decisions about the quality and cost of health care services."

myHealthcare Cost Estimator provides pricing and quality information for more than 550 services across more than 220 "episodes of care," which creates a comprehensive view of what consumers should expect throughout their course of treatment, from the time they first visit the doctor to the test or procedure, and through physical therapy or any necessary follow-up care. Quality and cost information is directly connected to hospitals and physicians that participate in UnitedHealthcare's care provider network, and alternate treatment options are provided so consumers can have an informed conversation with their physician.

Collaboration with care providers is critically important when building cost estimators and other consumer support tools to ensure they enhance the overall patient experience – and accurately portray expected costs and treatment options – rather than focus solely on costs.

UnitedHealthcare plan participants can access myHealthcare Cost Estimator online at It is also integrated into Health4Me™, UnitedHealthcare's mobile app for iPhone and Android smartphones that helps people with employer-sponsored benefits plans access important health care information on their mobile devices. 

A Simple Yet Comprehensive Shopping Experience

myHealthcare Cost Estimator was created based on years of consumer, employer and care provider feedback to ensure a simple, intuitive experience. Key features include:

  • estimates for more than 165 geographic areas;
  • searchable inpatient services including joint replacement, back surgeries and childbirth;
  • ability to assemble cost estimates by matching physicians with the specific facilities where they practice;
  • estimates that are tailored to a plan participant's specific benefits plan design that identify what will be owed out-of-pocket, costs that will be paid by their employer, and real-time account balances available in an eligible health care account to pay toward the expenses;
  • presentation of common alternate treatment options to educate patients on their choices; and
  • educational information about how their benefits work and how costs are determined.

If consumers have questions about the estimates, they can call the number on the back of their health benefits ID card, or use the click-to-call feature on their Health4me mobile app, to speak with a customer care professional. myHealthcare Cost Estimator is also integrated with additional information and resources, including nurse support.

myHealthcare Cost Estimator primarily provides estimates based on available fee schedules and actual contracted rates with care providers; if that information is not available, estimates are based on historical claims with the care provider. myHealthcare Cost Estimator builds on the success of UnitedHealthcare's Treatment Cost Estimator, which was created six years ago to help consumers comparison shop for health services and understand how costs differ from doctor to doctor.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

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