July 2, 2019
With just a few taps on your phone, you know the cost of the ride to get you to a doctor’s visit – but may have no idea how much the medical appointment itself will cost.
From something as simple as deciding whether to walk or call a car service to big-ticket items like planning a vacation or remodeling a home, today’s consumers have quick and easy ways to comparison shop. With healthcare costs making up 7 percent of the household budget for a married couple with children, it’s vital that shopping for medical services becomes part of the click-and-compare world.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies strongly support efforts to empower consumers with greater access to meaningful information that allows them to make the best choices for their healthcare. Our experience insuring one in three Americans tells us consumers most want clear information about their out-of-pocket costs, the quality of care a physician or facility will provide and whether a clinician is in their plan’s network.
Transparency isn’t just something we talk about. It’s something we already deliver.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies around the country offer a variety of tools and resources that help patients access and understand the individualized information that is critical to their personal healthcare decision-making. For example:
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies offer a suite of consumer transparency tools to give members actionable information that connects them with high-quality, cost-effective care. From side-by-side doctor comparisons, to meaningful cost estimates tailored to their individual benefit plan, as well as a proprietary “Personalized Match” feature, members are empowered to become more savvy healthcare consumers.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas offer access to Benefits Value Advisor. This live advocate helps individuals as they consider treatment options by easily enabling them to identify in-network providers and locate the best value through cost and quality comparisons for a variety of medical procedures. Through the Member Rewards program, individuals can estimate out-of-pocket costs, and when a quality, lower-cost service, provider or procedure is selected, members may receive a cash reward.
Federal employees enrolled in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Federal Employee Program® (FEP®) have access to tailored, personal information for health procedures specific to the consumer’s own benefit plan. The tool, which is available to members through FEP’s mobile app and the MyBlueSM portal, allows FEP members to comparison shop with the most accurate estimate for their out-of-pocket expenses.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s cost tool gives estimates for common procedures based on each individual’s specific benefits, with that individual’s co-pays and deductibles spelled out. In addition to comparing costs, patient reviews and details on care also are available.
In North Carolina, Blue Cross and Blue and Shield of North Carolina provides specific, transparent pricing information to all members so they can make informed healthcare decisions. All members have access to online pricing information that tells them what they will pay for a specific procedure and allows them to compare prices by location and provider. Some members can even take advantage of a transparency program that pays members cash for shopping and comparing costs of common medical procedures. When members choose the most affordable doctors and hospitals delivering high-quality care, a check is mailed to their home.
Learn more about BCBSA’s views on how lawmakers can best support increased transparency for healthcare consumers here.