- In an effort to improve transparency and customer engagement, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Louisiana launched an online consumer price comparison portal.
The portal, called SmartShopper, allows any BCBS customer in Louisiana to compare the cost ranges for more than 300 medical procedures based on facility and zip code.
“Blue Cross is taking advantage of new technology and sophisticated tools to analyze our own claims data and give customers more information about how different healthcare providers compare on costs,” said Somesh Nigam, Blue Cross senior vice president and chief data and analytics officer. “We’ve worked with Vitals, a healthcare transparency company, over the past two years to bring their SmartShopper tool to our members. We want to be a source our customers can trust to navigate the healthcare system.”
BCBS customers that are 18 and older, but who are not on the Federal Employee Program, can create an online account with login to access SmartShopper. The tool is also available to BCBS network providers.
Users can then see how procedures such as colonoscopies compare between clinics and healthcare facilities in their nearby healthcare networks.
BCBS LA notes that expensive procedures such as MRIs can range between hundreds and thousands of dollars, and urges consumers to take advantage of the transparency SmartShopper can give them in choosing expensive procedures.
“As healthcare costs keep rising, our members want greater transparency so they better understand the price differences for various procedures,” said Brian Keller, Blue Cross senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “Our customers on high-deductible plans, on which they are paying a higher portion of costs out of pocket, could really benefit from SmartShopper. If they take some time to shop and compare costs of medical services and procedures, they can save a lot of money.”