The free market. It's arguably the single most important factor behind the global dominance of the American economy. Yet one very large segment remains stubbornly on the edges, if not totally outside, our free market system: healthcare.
While open pricing and comparison shopping exist in every other area of our economy -from credit cards to cars - you won't find them in healthcare.
It's absolutely stunning to think that in America today the actual costs of goods and services are largely hidden from healthcare consumers.
This means that people are unaware that a procedure could cost thousands at one facility but just hundreds at another two blocks away. For example, a diagnostic colonoscopy ranges from $1,700 to over $17,000. And a range this wide may be from the same physician when performed at an ambulatory surgery center versus a hospital - same procedure, same doctor, but a difference of thousands of dollars simply because of the location! There's no other way to say it: That's nuts!
Conditions are equally mind-boggling for healthcare providers. They participate in health plan agreements in order to see commercially insured patients. But commercial insurance holds all the cards. The result? Reimbursements to providers are complicated and rate structures are proprietary. In addition, there is no open or easy way for doctors and healthcare professionals to adjust their own fees or share their actual pricing with their patients. Nor can they compete for patients who are uninsured or simply out of network.
This is ludicrous.
When consumers don't know what providers are actually being paid for their goods and services and when providers can't adjust their pricing based on market conditions, no one wins, especially individual Americans in their time of need. It's just not right.
So, we decided to do something about it.
Because, change is possible, folks. In fact, change is here.
It's called HealthCost.
HealthCost is the only network offering an open marketplace for setting, comparing and locking-in healthcare costs. Like other transparent, open markets, consumers and providers (as buyers and sellers) now mutually drive costs and demand.
HealthCost providers have the freedom to set their own HealthCost network rates and reach new consumers, no matter how, or if, they are insured.
HealthCost consumers have the freedom to comparison shop and lock-in rates with any provider they choose.
This is a big, big deal because - it’s worth mentioning again - walking in one provider’s door can cost several hundred dollars while walking in another door nearby can cost thousands. We think consumers should know what the costs are in advance so they can make informed decisions about their own care.
There are other online sources out there right now offering price transparency but they only share average costs. We applaud this, but it is a passive transparency.
Average costs can do a disservice to the consumer. Say a colonoscopy at one location costs $1,200 and at another location it cost nine thousand. If we tell a consumer the average cost of a colonoscopy is $5,100, is that helpful, is it actionable? We don’t think so. Instead we believe you must take the next step and share all prices fairly and openly, which is what HealthCost does.
We're offering active transparency. We’ve taken national pricing data and made it actionable for patients and providers.
Through our mobile app and HealthCost.com, pricing data is available to all. Any consumer can access the network, compare prices and offerings and make a decision to use or not use the network.
HealthCost provides plenty of freedom for providers, too. In fact, HealthCost providers are free to set their own prices and reach new patients no matter how, or even if, they are insured.
This may all seem like common sense - and it is - but it's revolutionary in healthcare. Using HealthCost is kind of like, well, buying an airline ticket or a car. You shop, you compare, you know what you’re paying for.
There are industry pundits that claim healthcare is too complex for consumers to understand. We think that decision should be made by an individual not an institution.
To be clear, HealthCost is not about driving pricing to some ugly bottom. To the contrary, HealthCost is about stopping the endless cycle of cost shifting that always leaves the doctors and patients on the losing end. HealthCost is also about freeing the market to do what markets do best: establish mutually agreed upon, fair pricing.
In addition, HealthCost does not seek to replace or interfere with any other network. Providers are welcome to be a member of the HealthCost network as well as others they wish. The market-driven reason for providers to join our network is that it provides access to millions of patients. It gives providers the freedom to determine the mix of patients and reimbursements that's right for them.
Free markets are essential to the success of the American economy.
In short, free markets rule!
And it's time for them to do so in healthcare, which is why we've launched HealthCost.
Please participate—healthcare providers and consumers—and let us know what you think. Download our app or peruse through our site to find out how HealthCost puts you in control.
Thank you. And be well!