Service continues mission of making health care information more transparent
EvergreenHealth now offers a free, personalized service for consumers seeking an estimate for the cost of their care. With one call or online request, patients can get an estimate of their out-of-pocket cost for medical and surgical care based specifically on their health insurance policy. In addition to the personalized service, EvergreenHealth has launched a Web page dedicated entirely to information and resources related to the cost and quality of care.
“Few things are more complex and difficult to understand than the cost of health care services. There are many reasons for this, but also way too many excuses on the part of providers and health systems,” said EvergreenHealth CEO Bob Malte. “This week, we are eliminating some of those excuses and advancing our commitment to transparency and value by launching our region’s most comprehensive patient cost transparency tool.”
The new cost-estimator service and Web page aim to provide consumers with resources that empower their health care decisions. The service is available both to patients who have scheduled procedures at EvergreenHealth and those who are simply seeking more information about the cost of care.
By calling or submitting an online request, patients can get a near real-time estimate of their out-of-pocket cost for medical and surgical care based specifically on the patient’s insurance coverage, their year-to-date deductible, the specific negotiated contracts with the patient’s insurance company and any unique medical requirements related to the patient’s care, provided the patient has that information from their physician.
“While some health systems make available the list price of their most frequent services, list prices, or charges, have little relevance to the actual cost of care to the consumer and payer,” Malte said. “Our aim is to provide patients with a service that goes further than simply providing charges or prices, especially since insurance and individual health plans play such a vital role in determining out-of-pocket costs.”
EvergreenHealth is committed to increasing transparency and community access to high quality health care at the best value. The new Web page, “Understanding Your Healthcare Costs”, provides consumers one-stop access to a variety of state and national resources that publish quality data, as well as direct access to EvergreenHealth’s quality and service results.
Recent results include EvergreenHealth’s recognition by Healthgrades as among the top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation. Last spring, U.S. News and World Report named EvergreenHealth the top non-academic medical center in the Puget Sound region.
“We are encouraging patients to look not just at price or out-of-pocket cost, but also at the related safety and clinical quality outcomes and service performance,” Malte said. “Patients share with us that they seek to understand the overall value of care – a combination of cost, quality and service – and our commitment is to supporting them with that process. If safety or quality is below standard, a lower price may not be a good thing. Conversely, higher prices don’t necessarily translate directly to better care.”
The Web page also includes links to most of the major insurers’ websites and, if available, cost-estimator tools as well as state and national health care cost websites. EvergreenHealth’s new estimator service utilizes a software program that links to the insurers directly, allowing access to the patient’s plan information and year-to-date deductible amount. Since the information is specific to each patient, the estimate is more accurate than other estimates that are based only on list price, average charges or the negotiated rate with the insurance company – a common feature of other health care cost services and websites.
The new tools reflect EvergreenHealth’s commitment to increasing transparency and community access to high quality health care at the best value, explained Chrissy Yamada, Chief Financial Officer for EvergreenHealth.
“We believe we are the first health system in the Puget Sound region to create patient cost transparency with this level of detail and accuracy,” Yamada said. “Consumers should be able to know, in advance, the cost of their health care services – taking into account all factors such as year-to-date deductible and negotiated rates with their insurance company. We welcome inquiries as an opportunity to help patients through this sometimes complicated process, while being a role model to others in our industry.”
To get a free estimate for out-of-pocket medical costs at EvergreenHealth, individuals can call 425-899-3632, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or submit a request online. In addition to providing out-of-pocket cost estimates, EvergreenHealth’s financial counselors can help uninsured patients understand out-of-pocket costs and provide guidance for obtaining insurance coverage.
To visit the new Web page, go to: www.evergreenhealth.com/estimate or click the “Understanding Your Healthcare Costs” box on the EvergreenHealth home page.