GRAND RAPIDS — Priority Health is laying the groundwork to become the first health plan in Michigan to publish specific, regionalized health care costs and quality information by procedure, facility and physician.
The company announced Tuesday it has signed a contract with Healthcare Blue Book to publish costs associated with more than 300 health care services most used by members of Priority Health.
“Today nearly half of Priority Health members have a high deductible health plan, and the number of high deductible plans is growing dramatically statewide,” said Michael P. Freed, president and CEO of Priority Health. “When individuals pay more out of their own pockets, they become more engaged in their health care decision-making. We feel it’s our role to improve the health and lives of our members by providing the information they need to make important health care decisions.”
Employers continue to express concerns about the rising cost of healthcare and are seeking ways to further engage their employees in their health care decision-making. With its partnership with Healthcare Blue Book, Priority Health will further promote engagement by providing members with price ranges, facility price rankings and quality metrics. This information will allow members to make more informed decisions about their health care and spend their benefit dollars more wisely.
“This tool is going to lead to a lot of educational discussions in doctors’ offices,” says John Fox, M.D., associate vice president of Medical Affairs at Priority Health. “Patients will be asking about their best course of treatment and how much it will cost.”
The new health care cost tool, which will be available in late summer, will allow Priority Health members to search by procedure, facility and physician and other criteria. For example, the cost of a knee arthroscopy may range from $1,751 to $6,087 between facilities. Healthcare Blue Book continuously analyzes this information to determine the current “Fair Price” for the procedure in each market. In this example, the Fair Price would be approximately $2,110. It then creates a stratified list of facilities to help the Priority Health member assess the costs on a scale of “green” (at or below the fair price), “yellow” (slightly above the fair price) and “red” (most expensive). It will also link to quality information and patient reviews.
“We want to make sure the information we provide through this tool offers our members a complete picture of their care options – both from a quality and cost perspective,” added Fox. “Priority Health is a leader in providing reliable, actionable information for Michigan patients. It made sense for us to partner with Healthcare Blue Book, a trusted leader that works directly with employers, to take the next step in health care transparency and enhance the information we make available.”
“Most consumers spend more time shopping for a new TV than for their health care,” says Jeffrey Rice, M.D., CEO of Healthcare Blue Book. “With our tool, they can understand the large differences in health care costs and compare by procedure, facility and physician to make good choices for themselves and their families, similar to the type of online support they are accustomed to when evaluating other services. We’re pleased to collaborate with an innovative leader like Priority Health to provide this information to their members.”
Priority Health is an award-winning, Michigan-based health plan nationally recognized for creating innovative solutions that impact health care costs while maximizing customer experience. It offers a broad portfolio of products for employer groups and individuals, including Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. As a nonprofit company, Priority Health serves more than 600,000 people and continues to be rated among the best health plans in the nation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
Healthcare Blue Book is a health care price transparency company that is dedicated to helping people better manage their health care by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to shop for and receive a Fair Price for the healthcare services they need. Its website, healthcarebluebook.com, was the first to offer pricing data for health care services on a national basis. The company works with employers, health plans, third party administrators, on-site health clinics, accountable care organizations and benefits brokers to help their consumers reduce the cost of healthcare.