Blues' Online Comparison Tool Helps Members Manage Healthcare Costs
February 15, 2011
WASHINGTON – Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies are helping to take some of the mystery out of going to the doctor with a tool that has been proven to help educate consumers about healthcare costs so that they can make more informed healthcare choices.
The tool provides consumers with greater transparency by shedding light on the cost of 59 of the most common, elective procedures for inpatient, outpatient and diagnostic services at specified area hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and free-standing radiology centers for inpatient, outpatient and diagnostic services.
Cost information is one aspect patients frequently consider when making decisions on healthcare services and the facilities where these services are performed.
The interactive resource, developed by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and a collaboration of BCBS companies, has been successfully used in 63 of the top 100 markets and is now being expanded nationwide. This means that members across the Blue System will now have access to information about the cost of care in nearly every ZIP code in the United States.
"Providing increased detail about healthcare trends and costs so members can make the best decisions when choosing common medical tests, procedures and other services will provide the transparency consumers need to make healthcare decisions to fit their budget and lifestyle and help rein in healthcare costs," said Scott P. Serota, president and CEO of BCBSA.
Cost estimates are developed using 12 months of claims data and provide consumers with a cost range for a specific procedure. For example, the total cost for a knee replacement at a specific hospital may be $19,000 to $23,000.
The online comparison tool represents another one of the latest efforts by the Blue System to give customers the information they need when making healthcare decisions.
Other interactive tools developed by BCBSA to help consumers understand their healthcare options include the interactive AskBlue suite of tools that serve as guides to understanding health insurance and healthcare reform, and the Blue National Doctor and Hospital Finder, an online national database on www.bcbs.com to help members locate local physicians and hospitals and learn more about innovative and cost-effective Blue System programs. The Blue National Doctor and Hospital Finder and FEP Online Provider Finder Directory websites also identify providers who use electronic prescribing, which is another way that BCBS companies are supporting efforts to enhance quality care and increase patient safety.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 106 million members – one-in-three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.