UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana are leading efforts to make healthcare costs available for consumers to review online.
The price transparency initiative, organized by the Health Care Cost Institute, will provide consumers with a reference price for episodes of care, such as knee replacements and heart surgery, in different communities based on aggregated data from the insurers, HCCI announced yesterday.
"The public has been clamoring for this," HCCI Executive Director David Newman told Bloomberg. "This was the next natural step for us as an institute to evolve to."
UnitedHealth, Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente launched HCCI in 2011 and the nonprofit organization will create and operate the online pricing tool, which should be available early next year, based on cost information from the three participating insurers.
Members of UnitedHealth, Aetna and Humana will have access to more specific pricing information, including out-of-pocket costs for certain services. And employers will be able to see even more "granular" information to customize health plans for their workers and create a seamless insurance experience regardless of payer.
"We're looking to reorient the healthcare system around the consumer and we see this as another step in that process," Aetna spokesman Ethan Slavin told Bloomberg.
Humana said the online tool will "satisfy consumer, employer and regulator demands for an easy and consistent way to compare prices by providing a free, single source of information on healthcare services, price and quality," Forbes reported.