- In order to reduce ever rising healthcare costs, health insurance companies will need to improve price transparency among their health plans as well as within their provider networks. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report showing how price transparency can actually play a role in better managing rising healthcare costs.
Price transparency could have a major impact on informing consumers about their medical costs and create a better system for reducing healthcare spending among payers and providers. Additionally, more consumers are looking for greater price transparency in order to choose the best and most affordable services for their needs. Health payers need to provide transparency for their members in order to lower costs and improve patient satisfaction.
The Robert Wood Johnson report cited that 69 percent of polled consumers are looking for their health insurance companies to provide data on how much they pay doctors and hospitals for medical services. Out of those who have previously compared prices among needed healthcare services, 82 percent stated that they would do so again. This shows how price transparency can benefit both payers and consumers.
Greater price transparency can be an important tool for consumers to make better decisions on the healthcare services they need. Research shows that price transparency can both reduce out-of-pocket costs for consumers and cut overall healthcare spending across the medical industry.
HealthEdge CEO Steve Krupa previously spoke with HealthPayerIntelligence.com about ways to improve consumer satisfaction including better communication and price transparency.
“High customer satisfaction results in increased member loyalty and trust, and our survey shows that health plans have an enormous opportunity to cement themselves as trusted advisors with their members via effective communication,” Krupa said. “Today’s members primarily seek health-related information and advice from providers, friends and family and online websites sites; to-date, health insurers have not earned this trusted status due to such poor communication and a challenging user experience across many channels.”
“If health insurers can provide timely and relevant information on both programs and incentives to participate in on behalf of healthy behaviors, members will enjoy improved health, and will consume less healthcare resources. This will result in a better quality of life for the member and reduced resource usage paid for by the health insurer,” concluded Krupa.
Since premiums are constantly rising and more payers are positioning high-deductible health plans as their main products, price transparency becomes key in helping patients make better purchasing decisions and save money on healthcare services. Payers can follow the lead of some national health insurance companies that have created tools to improve price transparency and show patients price difference between multiple medical facilities and providers.
Aetna, for instance, has created the Member Payment Estimator, a price transparency tool for its members. Improving price transparency will be especially necessary for consumers who have high-deductible health plans. Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation illustrates that, among people with employer-sponsored coverage, 81 percent have an annual deductible as of 2015, which has grown 11 percent since 2010.
One survey from GfK found that consumers on the public health insurance exchanges are cutting back on visiting their primary care doctors in order to save money due to rising premiums and high deductibles.
This is problematic because delaying care may only lead to a worsening of symptoms and medical conditions. This would leave patients with no choice but to visit more pricey emergency rooms. However, greater price transparency could help patients from delaying care. Payers are advised to improve price transparency within their provider networks and health plans, which would benefit both patients and insurers themselves.