New HCCI Website Uses Claims Data To Compare Health Care Prices

February 26, 2015 in News

On Wednesday, the Health Care Cost Institute launched a website that consumers can use to compare the prices of medical services, Modern Healthcare reports.

Details of Website

To compile the price information, the website — called Guroo — pulls data from medical claims from Aetna, Assurant Health, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. The data set includes claims for more than 40 million U.S. residents.

Consumers can use Guroo to query the prices for 70 services, such as diagnostic tests and office visits, in more than 300 cities, 41 states and Washington D.C.

HCCI Executive Director David Newman said the organization “focused on shoppable, discretionary, scheduled services.”

Newman said the average prices on Guroo will provide a reference point for consumers to compare prices. He said the prices are accurate “assuming that the patient, on average, is average.”

Data on pharmaceuticals are not yet included on the site but are under development.

In addition, HCCI plans to launch another site later this year that offers information on out-of-pocket costs. The site will be available to consumers who have health plans through insurers that contributed to Guroo.

Reaction

Francois de Brantes, executive director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, said it is rarely the case that a patient will be average, as illness and medical care are highly complex. He said patients would be better prepared if public pricing disclosed which services are included and excluded from medical bill estimates.

Experts have said that price transparency could slow health care inflation and overall costs.

However, Mark Pauly, a health policy and management professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said comparison shopping by a relatively small percentage of U.S. patients would not have a big effect on U.S. health care cost growth.

Meanwhile, Chapin White, an economist and senior policy researcher at RAND, said employers and regulators could use price information to put pressure on providers to adjust their rates (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 2/25).

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