Blues promote cost transparency

Five Blues plans collaborate to provide online, consumer-friendly healthcare cost information.

Five Blues health plans are collaborating to provide access to online, consumer-friendly healthcare cost information.

WellPoint, Highmark Inc. (Pennsylvania), Premera Blue Cross (Washington), Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, will provide the total estimated cost ranges associated with 39 specific medical procedures performed at a local hospital, outpatient surgery center, free-standing radiology facility or other medical facility.

“It is a collaborative effort to use the same data methodology [developed by WellPoint] and same condition list to present to all members within all Blue Plan locations,” says Debra Miller, a Highmark e-marketing consultant.

The cost information is facility-specific ranges that include everything during the hospital stay, according to Miller. “It is a shopping tool for common elective surgical procedures where the consumer has the ability to shop and the desire to do so because of increasing out-of-pocket costs,” she says.

The roll-out will initially include a limited amount of cost information. Information is being mined from the Blue plans’ claims data paid over the last 12 months, and will be updated every six months.