Major U.S. Health Plans Agree to Give Consumers FREE Access to Timely Information About Health Care Prices to Foster Greater Transparency
- Health Care Cost Institute to Develop Online Platform to Help Consumers, Employers and Regulators Examine the Price and Quality of Health Care Services
The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) announced today that it will work with three of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare, to develop and provide consumers free access to an online tool that will offer consumers the most comprehensive information about the price and quality of health care services.
The independent, not for profit HCCI will create and administer this information portal, which is expected to be available in early 2015. The health benefit companies will provide information on health care costs to HCCI, which will maintain and manage access to the information in a highly secure, protected environment. Other major carriers have expressed interest and HCCI expects additional carriers to participate in the near future and be part of the initial release in early 2015. Participating insurers will continue to offer their own cost transparency tools and solutions as well. The cost data will be supplemented with quality and other information to provide consumers a transparent and comprehensive destination to make more informed decisions about health care.
“Consumers, employers and regulatory agencies will now have a single source of consistent, transparent health care information based on the most reliable data available, including actual costs, which only insurers currently have,” said David Newman, Executive Director of HCCI. “Voluntarily making this information available will be of immeasurable value to consumers and other health system participants as they seek to manage the cost and quality of care.”
Health care costs have been rising more than three times as fast as wages. Official estimates project that U.S. health spending will reach $4.7 trillion by the end of the decade - an 80 percent increase from $2.6 trillion in 2010 - underlining the need to better understand the prices of health care services to help make decisions and choices about purchasing care.
The new transparency tool that HCCI is developing will aggregate pricing data from commercial health plans, as well as Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans, if the states agree. The information will be available to consumers, purchasers, regulators and payers in an accessible, comparable and easy-to-use format.
- For consumers, this will provide consistent and accurate transparency in the shopping experience with the most comprehensive cost data and quality information; uninsured individuals can access more reliable information about the relative prices of care, treatments and procedures;
- For employers, this will foster more employee engagement in managing health care costs regardless of payer, health plan or plan design. This will provide a seamless experience regardless of payer;
- For care providers, this provides timely and accurate information about costs and quality and allows them to see information on other providers as well;
- For regulators, this provides a single source of information to support market studies, including evaluation of market efficiency and accurate review of cost drivers. This will help inform geographic rate adjustments and provide guidance for addressing important public policy issues;
- For payers, this provides the most accurate and timely data to meet customer needs and protects proprietary data while allowing customers access to multi-payer information.
“The HCCI governing board is pleased by the trust the participating insurers are placing in the Institute. The foresight and commitment of these insurers to create a national resource for consumers, employers and policy makers is without precedent,” said Stephen T. Parente, Chair of HCCI’s governing board. “This new transparency initiative seeks to ensure that every American gets the best value out of their national investment.”
HCCI expects the transparency platform will continue to be refined in subsequent releases after its introduction. For example, future updates of the tool are expected to include more comparison features and, in the longer term, data from fee-for-service Medicare and Medicaid programs, as and when it becomes available.
About the Health Care Cost Institute
The Health Care Cost Institute was launched in 2011 to promote independent, nonpartisan research and analysis on the causes of the rise in U.S. health spending. For more information, visit www.healthcostinstitute.org or follow us on Twitter @healthcostinstitute.
Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 44 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers' compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com and the 2014 Aetna story about how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world.
Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is a leading health and well-being company focused on making it easy for people to achieve their best health with clinical excellence through coordinated care. The company’s strategy integrates care delivery, the member experience, and clinical and consumer insights to encourage engagement, behavior change, proactive clinical outreach and wellness for the millions of people Humana serves across the country.
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 more than 800,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. Globally, UnitedHealthcare serves more than 45 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.