Three of the nation’s largest health insurance companies and the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) have partnered to develop and provide consumers free access to an online tool that will offer consumers information about the price and quality of healthcare services.
The independent, not for profit HCCI will work with Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare to create and administer this information portal, which is expected to be available in early 2015. The health benefit companies will provide information on healthcare costs to HCCI, which will maintain and manage access to the information in a highly secure, protected environment.
The new transparency tool that HCCI is developing will aggregate pricing data from commercial health plans, as well as Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans, if the states agree. The information will be available to consumers, purchasers, regulators and payers.
Other major carriers have expressed interest, and HCCI says that it expects additional carriers to participate in the near future and be part of the initial release in early 2015. Participating insurers will continue to offer their own cost transparency tools and solutions as well. The cost data will be supplemented with quality and other information to provide consumers a transparent and comprehensive destination to make more informed decisions about healthcare.
HCCI says it expects the transparency platform will continue to be refined in subsequent releases after its introduction. For example, future updates of the tool are expected to include more comparison features and, in the longer term, data from fee-for-service Medicare and Medicaid programs, as and when it becomes available.
“Consumers, employers and regulatory agencies will now have a single source of consistent, transparent healthcare information based on the most reliable data available, including actual costs, which only insurers currently have,” David Newman, executive director of HCCI, said in a news release. “Voluntarily making this information available will be of immeasurable value to consumers and other health system participants as they seek to manage the cost and quality of care.”