Is the Cost Shroud About to Get Yanked?

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A new effort to show people how much different providers in their area charge for various procedures is picking up steam. Last month four additional health plans – Harvard, Assurant, Health Net and Kaiser – signed on to help develop and launch a new national initiative that will give consumers free, online access to cost data from area physicians. Aetna, United and Humana had previously signed on.

The effort is led by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), which is developing the online portal that will let people comparison shop for health care. HCCI was tapped earlier this year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to do similar work for the Medicare program.

NCQA expects to play a central role in the effort as well, working with HCCI staff and others to figure out how to best display quality of care data alongside cost information. Engaging consumers in the effort to control costs has long been one of the most important, and most difficult, challenges facing the health care system.

About 50 million people are enrolled in plans participating in the effort, making it among the largest such reporting efforts to date.

The online portal is expected to debut sometime in late 2015. Interested parties should contact HCCI directly for more information.

Michael S. Barr, MD
Michael S. Barr, MD, MBA, MACP, NCQA’s Executive Vice President of our Quality Measurement and Research Group. In this position, he promotes delivery system reform and performance measurement, research, analysis and consulting work. Michael has a personal website with blogs about health, medicine, music and life: http://michaelsbarr.com/

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