When consumers used UnitedHealth's price transparency tools, they were able to comparison shop for lower costs and search for high-quality providers, according to a new study of the insurer's myHealthcare Cost Estimator (myHCE).
UnitedHealth's myHCE contains cost estimates for about 520 services, providing consumers with the full picture for all costs related to a service, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
Comparing more than 425,000 consumers, including users and nonusers of UnitedHealth's price transparency tool, the study found that myHCE users were 7 percent more likely to choose a high-quality primary care doctor and 9 percent more likely to find high-quality orthopedists.
"This study shows consumers who use myHealthcare Cost Estimator are making better, more informed choices regarding the quality of care," Sam Ho, UnitedHealth's executive vice president and chief medical officer, said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer. "By accessing crucial quality and cost information, people are taking control of their health and better understanding their treatment options."
Consumers are choosing high-quality providers because the myHCE tool clearly shows which doctors have met UnitedHealth's standards for quality by listing them as Tier 1. "There's an icon that identifies Tier 1 providers, and there's information embedded in the tool to explain what Tier 1 means," Victoria "Tory" Bogatyrenko, UnitedHealth's national vice president for product, innovation and marketing, told FierceHealthPayer in a previous interview.
The study, which was conducted by UnitedHealth, also determined that myHCE users were more likely to be younger, female and enrolled in consumer-driven health plans that incorporate features like health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts.
"Regardless of differences in member characteristics, we found that the myHCE tool engages all consumers and is associated with greater usage of 'quality and efficient' physicians," the authors of the study wrote.
However, the authors noted that more research is needed to determine how to better reach consumers who aren't using price transparency tools.
To learn more:
- here's the UnitedHealth study (.pdf)