Transparency in health care costs can help patients plan ahead.
It could soon get a little easier to budget your health care expenses and make more informed health care decisions. Phil Dougherty of the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans , says the group's 17 members pledge to make health care costs more transparent for consumers.
"It helps (consumers) understand ahead of time what they're likely to have to pay out of their own pocket. That will help them determine better what's the most appropriate action for them, in terms of receiving health care services."
Each of the Association-member health plans will begin providing the estimates to enrollees by September first. Currently, upon request, health plans must provide estimates of allowable charges for a specific service. This new initiative takes that a step further to give consumers information most relevant to them — estimates of their out-of-pocket costs.
As a bonus, Dougherty says it's very possible we could see an increase in pricing competition. "We expect that the more information about health care services that's presented to the public, we think that there will be more choices available … and you are likely to see more competition among health care providers."
A bill proposing such transparency requirements was introduced during the last session of the state legislature, but the proposal died when the lawmakers adjourned.
NOTE: Wisconsin Association of Health Plans consists of 17 health plans throughout the state, directly serving approximately 1.3 million Wisconsin residents and include 13 of the top 20 health insurers in Wisconsin. Along with their affiliated organizations, the plans serve more than 3 million people in Wisconsin and represent 18 of the top 20 health insurers in the state. (Source: Assoc. website )