Wisconsin Consumers Can Connect to Health Care Price Info at WiPricePoint.org
Mary Kay Grasmick, 608-274-1820, 575-7516
MADISON (August 21, 2014) ----- Shopping for health care might not ever be as simple as comparing prices in a grocery store. But in Wisconsin, health care providers and the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center, LLC (WHAIC), a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA), continue to develop and refine tools aimed at helping consumers compare health care costs.
Today, WHAIC released its latest version of PricePoint (www.WiPricePoint.org), a web-based resource that provides hospital-specific charges and financial data related to care provided in all Wisconsin hospitals, urgent care settings owned by hospitals and in Medicare-certified ambulatory surgery centers in Wisconsin.
As people assume more financial responsibility for their health care decisions, they need information about the price and quality of medical services. Unfortunately, there is no single place where consumers can get all that information, according to WHA Senior Vice President Brian Potter. A hospital stay, for example, includes a charge from the hospital, a charge for the physician services, rehabilitation or physical therapy expenses in some cases, and prescription drugs. These charges often come from more than one provider and are not on one bill.
“It’s not possible or practical to compare prices for all services in advance, but for elective surgery and diagnostic procedures, PricePoint offers consumers an opportunity to see the ‘sticker’ price in advance, and then offers guidance on who to contact to determine their out-of-pocket expenses,” Potter said.
As co-insurance and deductibles continue to rise, the desire to know the cost of services also increases. The newest release of PricePoint offers a guide to help patients understand what their responsibility for the bill will be, along with links to resources that explain insurance coverage, payment options and terminology commonly used on bills.
“Stakeholders must all work together – health systems, employers, health plans and government – to provide patients the information they need,” said WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding. “While Wisconsin is ahead of the curve on health care transparency, we continue to look for ways to encourage patients to ask questions about their insurance coverage and the billing process before receiving services whenever possible.”
A recent report released by the national Healthcare Financial Management Association and the American Hospital Association said health plans should be the primary source of price information for their members, while hospitals should be the prime contact for those without insurance or who are out-of-network.
The newest release of the PricePoint website builds on Wisconsin hospitals’ commitment to make hospital costs and billing policies more transparent. Developed and launched by WHAIC in 2005, the PricePoint web-based platform is now licensed for use in 10 states.
Wisconsin hospitals have led the country in their willingness to share information on the cost, quality and safety of the care they provide in their communities, which has made the state a national model for health care transparency. Wisconsin hospitals share quality-related information online at www.WiCheckPoint.org.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, but we know there is still much to be done,” Borgerding said. “As we enter the health insurance enrollment period, we encourage employers to share PricePoint with their employees.”
All of the data on PricePoint is collected and published by the WHA Information Center. The WHAIC has collected and disseminated complete, accurate and timely data about charges and services provided by Wisconsin hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers since 2004.