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Tool Aims to Bring Down Health Costs Through Price Transparency

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022   

Coloradans can now compare even more health-care procedure costs, and quality rankings, for over 53 services at more than 100 hospitals and facilities across the state.

Cari Frank, vice president for communications at the Center for Improving Value in Health Care, the group behind the updated Shop for Care tool, said making prices transparent can help individuals save money and bring down the overall costs of care.

"I think we really do need to shift our mindset as consumers," Frank urged. "And be taking ownership of the fact that we have the ability to drive some of these prices down, and take a little bit more control over our premiums."

Frank pointed out the tool can also help those without insurance navigate the best prices for services continuing to rise across Colorado. The highest-priced facility performing C-sections rose by 47%, and the cost of getting a wrist x-ray rose by 26%, between 2017 and 2019.

Price transparency is seen as a key component for bringing down health-care costs, and a new federal law requires hospitals to post prices online, but Frank noted prices are not always easy to find, or very user-friendly when you do.

"Our tool lets them do a one-stop shop, where you can compare all facilities at once," Frank outlined. "You can look at distance from your house, you can look at how the quality compares, just right at your fingertips, as opposed to having to go to each individual site."

The tool, which taps data from the Colorado All Payer Claims Database, also updates so-called episode prices for procedures such as knee and hip replacement, births, hysterectomies, colonoscopies and more. Episode pricing calculates the "all-in" cost based on what a typical procedure involves.

"Pre-surgery, during surgery or during the procedure, and then post," Frank explained. "So it encompasses pretty much everything you might have to pay, so you really get a good idea of what the whole price tag will be."

Disclosure: Center for Improving Value in HealthCare contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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