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Connecticut Launches Health Literacy, Cost Transparency Mobile App

September 7, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Fair Health, an independent nonprofit organization, launched a free, mobile app for Connecticut residents aimed at improving health insurance literacy and promoting cost transparency in medical and dental costs.

The FH Cost Lookup CT mobile app, which is a consumer-facing app, was funded by a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health).

According to Fair Health, Connecticut residents are facing a number of changes to their health system which increasingly requires consumers to make complex decisions based on costs associated with their medical and dental care. Those changes include “the expansion of coverage through Access Health CT, the state's health insurance exchange; the proliferation of health plans with increased member cost-sharing requirements and narrow networks; and the overall drive toward value in healthcare,” according to a Fair Health press release.

The app, which is available in both English and Spanish, includes a feature that enables both insured and uninsured consumers to estimate the regionally specific costs of medical and dental procedures received in Connecticut, as well as in the neighboring states  of New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The app also provides educational articles that explain the fundamentals of health coverage, as well as healthcare issues specific to Connecticut. In addition, the app directs users to community resources for healthcare, transportation assistance and other services, according to the Fair Health announcement. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store or from Google Play.

In addition to FH Cost Lookup CT's development, the grant-funded program entails efforts to disseminate the app and promote its use through collaborations with community-based organizations, community health centers and health exchange navigators. The program will also develop targeted partnerships with organizations that serve Hispanic communities.

“Having access to basic health information and pricing data is absolutely critical to advancing health equity in Connecticut. Now more than ever, it is essential to equip consumers with cost and other educational health resources so that they can make better healthcare decisions.  Having the information in the app available in both English and Spanish is an important step in maximizing the impact of health coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act,” Tiffany Donelson, vice president of program at CT Health, said in a prepared statement.

Matthew Katz, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Medical Society, said physicians in Connecticut are increasingly serving on the frontlines of cost-related conversations with their patients. “With access to Fair Health's free app, physicians and patients can have meaningful discussions regarding the costs of tests and treatments, thereby leading to shared and informed decision making. Eliminating the confusion around costs is indeed a win-win for physicians, patients and patients' families," Katz said in a statement.

“Research continues to show that most consumers lack the necessary understanding of health insurance required to make informed healthcare decisions—whether selecting a plan or managing healthcare and related costs. Fair Health is proud to offer a free tool that will help advance health insurance literacy and empower Connecticut residents to better navigate the healthcare system,” Fair Health president Robin Gelburd said in a statement.

The new app is driven by healthcare prices from Fair Health’s database of more than 21 billion claims for privately billed medical and dental procedures dating back to 2002. Fair Health receives data from payors that collectively insure more than 150 million individuals in the private healthcare system.

 

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