Health Care Price Transparency Grade Report 2015

Last week, The Catalyst for Payment Reform organization released their third report card, grading U.S. states on their level of health care price transparency. Bad news everyone, they are not impressive. With 45 states receiving failing grades, it is clear that we have a long way to go. Two years ago, when the group released their first price transparency report, only 29 states failed, which means some states, have taken steps backwards rather than forwards.

In a survey performed earlier this year, it was found that only one out of three patients actually have access to pricing for medical procedures, yet 80% of those surveyed said they value price transparency as much as they value bed-side manner. Having access to clear costs is so important to patients that over 50% of those surveyed said they would actually change their medical provider just to get better access to price transparency.

We want to give the people what they want. We’re here to say that enough is enough. Starting today, we want the U.S. to adopt better health care price transparency, but where do we start?

health care price transparency

Medical providers have seen the writing on the wall, they know that they have to start showing their prices in order to appease consumer driven patients. It’s hard for doctors and hospitals to accept that the time is now to show costs, but many have gotten on board. The next step is getting state governments to jump on the bandwagon, pushing those who are still apprehensive to adopt full price transparency.

Colorado and Maine received B grades in the report, gaining attention for their legislation over the previous year and their efforts aimed at improving access to prices. New Hampshire is highlighted as the only state to receive an A rating, due in large part to the creation of state-wide website New Hampshire Health Cost. This government website was developed by the New Hampshire Insurance Department to improve transparency and while it isn’t perfect yet, it’s a great resource for patients looking to compare prices on medical procedures. These prices are only estimates, but we admire them for taking steps in the right direction.

Some of our most populated Save On Medical states still received failing grades, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for patients. The states might not be on board yet, but many providers are still making it easy for patients to shop online. Shout out to these high quality health care providers in states like Florida, Texas, New York and California! We look forward to next year and hope by then, that patients in every city and state in the United States can Save On Medical.

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The Patient Navigator’s Role In Empowering Patients

The role of the patient navigator is on the rise, but what makes them so valuable and is it time for your health care organization to appoint their own? First, let’s explore what a patient navigator’s role is within a practice or a hospital.

Their job is to serve as a patient’s advocate, empowering and helping patients make the best decisions for the future of their health and care.   Ironically, the patient navigator’s goal should be to become dispensable to the patient because they have helped them become their own advocates.

Whether the patient navigator is focusing on providing and explaining patient resources or guiding the patient along the journey through their illness, this individual can be just as important as the patient’s doctor. With the help of a navigator, patients can get a better understanding of the health care system and their processes, find affordable care options and become more empowered patients.

patient navigators

Patient navigators are key to explaining:

  • Medical terminology
  • Health care technology
  • Costs of care
  • Patients’ needs
  • Options for care

Aside from the assistance they are able to provide to patients, patient navigators are also beneficial to the organizations in which they work. Hiring a patient navigator can help your practice or hospital with quality improvement, assist in decreasing common health care disparities and provide better support for patients during the decision making process while taking some of the stress off of doctors. By sharing the responsibility of patient navigation, physicians and nurse staff are able to focus their attention on serving more patients and providing better overall care.

Patient navigators can often be found in hospitals, cancer centers, surgery centers, radiology centers and clinics. If you’re a patient, be sure to ask your doctor to see if there is a patient navigator on staff who can be available if you have questions, or check out this resource: Patient Navigator. If you are a health care provider interested in adding a patient navigator to your staff, you can get started by exploring these training resources.

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Save On Medical Tackles Consumerism in Health Care

In order for true consumerism to be in effect, the seller of a product or service must ultimately have the interest of the consumer in mind.  We’ve said it before and we will say it again: It should be just as easy to shop for health care procedures as it is to shop for your car, your travel or a pair of shoes.  There’s no question when you are paying for those goods how much it’s going to cost you and you certainly don’t have to worry about surprise costs. So how do we bring true consumerism to health care?

Tackling consumerism in health care is more than just making prices transparent or providing physician quality scores, it’s about finding out what patients want and giving them access to what they expect.

 

health care consumerism for patients

 

What consumer-driven patients expect:

  • To know the full price of the services they are receiving
  • To have access to prices without having to hunt them down or barter
  • For health care professionals to collaborate with one another across the board Ex: Insurance companies, billing departments and physicians
  • To have seamless and easy access to resources such as scheduling and shopping tools online and on-the-go
  • For health care providers to already be ahead of the curve

It was reported by Modern Healthcare that in 2015, 31% of patients paying out-of-pocket for their medical expenses feel powerless, resigned, depressed or angry. This is not the way we want our patients to feel. We want them to feel empowered and happy, because they feel like they are getting a deal on something they need.

It’s not easy for health care providers to adhere to these expectations because it is such a shift from what has been the norm in the health care industry, but patients have the power so we will see the tides turn.  From a patient’s perspective, health care should be a very advanced field. Doctors are performing life saving procedures and scientists are developing innovative technology and cures, but they can’t figure out how to make prices clear to patients? Nothing is every as easy as it seems, but this is definitely a confusing conundrum from their side of things.

As health care providers, we need to do a better job of meeting patient expectations otherwise they will not buy in to any of the tools we build for them. Save On Medical is making consumerism in health care a possibility by turning these expectations into a reality.

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Save On Medical’s New Mobile-Optimized Website

Last week we launched Save On Medical’s brand new website. You might have noticed that our website looks a little different and by different we mean better. Our home page has a fresh new look and we have made it easier for patients to search for affordable radiology and surgery procedures.  Also, the whole website is now mobile-friendly, meaning patients can shop for procedures, compare prices and book appointments on the go.

save on medical expenses app

Now when patients search for a medical procedures on our price transparency website, the first thing a patient sees is the average price for a procedure on Save On Medical. Users can compare the Save On Medical price to the typical price in the area and see how much they can save.

Sign Up for Save On Medical today: Create your account

We know that price isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to picking a doctor, so we’ve made sure that patients searching on the site can see the Docometer quality scores at the same time as the prices.  Patients can also now filter their results based on what is most important to them. Patients can select to only see imaging center or outpatient surgery center options that have free parking, weekend appointments, extended hours etc.

physician results

Once a patient selects a doctor and clicks to view the provider’s profile page, they can easily schedule appointments and see how much they are saving by paying for their appointment online through Save On Medical.  You can also now book an appointment for additional services from the provider’s profile page.  If you’ve selected a provider that is not yet part of the Save On Medical network, you’ll now see other options of providers close by that do have their prices listed.

We’d love to know what you think of our new look. Feel free to share your opinions on our Facebook page or in our comment section!

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How Save On Medical Works

Think back to a time in the early 2000’s when people first started booking their travel online with websites like Expedia and Hotels.com. It took a bit of time before some people felt comfortable with the new process.  They were used to comparing, booking and paying for travel over the phone with airlines, hotels and travel agents. The same apprehension was at play with EBay and online banking, but now paying for goods and services online is second nature. By 2012, you could buy just about everything online, except as it turned out, health care procedures. We decided to change that.

Save On Medical is simple to use. We are an online market place for medical procedures where patients can shop and compare the cost, quality and/or convenience of medical providers in their area. Think of Save On Medical as the Expedia for medical procedures like MRIs, Mammograms or colonoscopies.

how to save on medical bills

We can help you save money on your medical bills in 7 easy steps:

  1. Search Providers
  2. Compare Prices
  3. Check Quality
  4. Request Appointment
  5. Schedule Time
  6. Pay Online
  7. Show Up

Search: Select the procedure you need from the drop down menu and type in your zip code then click “Search”. If your script requires contrast, don’t worry; we’ll get that information later.

Compare Prices: The average cost for the procedure will be listed at the top of the page, under which will be the list of providers in your area and their prices will be listed on the right side. These prices are all-inclusive* and no additional bills or charges will be included. That’s right, no additional reading fees or charges for reports. *There may be an increased price for contrast studies.

Check Quality: When you click on the Provider’s name, you’ll be taken to their profile page where you’ll see their Docometer Score. The weighted score is on a scale of 100 and is based on a number of key points. The providers are evaluated by our grading department and have no control over their Docometer Scores.

Request Appointment: Once you’ve selected the center you want to go to, you can request an appointment on the right side of their profile page. Simply click the green “Book Appointment” button and fill in the required fields.

Schedule Time: After you’ve requested an appointment someone from the center will call you directly to confirm you have a script for the procedure and will schedule your appointment over the phone. This will happen within 24-hours. Please feel free to contact us if you have not heard back from a provider in 24 hours.

Pay Online: Once you schedule your appointment, you can log back in to your account and pay for your procedure. You can click the “Appointments” tab on the left side of the screen.  Click “View” to the right of the procedure you want to pay for and a green “Make Payment” button will appear.  You can then pay for your procedure with a credit card or PayPal account through our secure payment gateway.

Show Up: Once you’ve paid for your procedure, all you have to do is show up for your appointment. You can print off your payment confirmation and take it with you to the appointment to be safe, but you won’t need it. The staff at the center will know you’ve paid in full.

quality radiologists

Sample Provider Profile Page

 

You might be wondering, how are these prices so cheap? The prices on Save On Medical are self-pay discounts the provider offers since the patient is paying online ahead of time. Think of it like the rates on Expedia or Hotels.com. If you call an airline or hotel directly, the staff member will likely quote you a higher price and tell you that lower rates may be available online.

Airlines and hotels do this so they can still make money on their empty seats or rooms. If diagnostic imaging centers have empty time slots in their schedule or stay open for extended hours to serve more patients, they can take advantage of the same opportunity.

 

If you have more questions about how Save On Medical works, feel free to give us a call at 888-372-5438.

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