As a trend, healthcare price transparency has started off strong this year. In a recent interview, price transparency tool Medlio's CEO David Brooks told MobiHealthNews people are no longer on preferred provider organization plans as much as they have been in the past. As a result, instead of simply paying a copay, users are now on high deductible health plans and are starting to care more about the prices of medical services.
“We have this fundamental problem in healthcare — it’s always been the case where we have a buyer-seller service, where neither party know what the cost of that service is,” Brooks said. “Now, this is, at least for the last 30 years, how it’s always been in healthcare, and up until recently, it hasn’t been a big deal. And the reason is [that] patients really weren’t responsible for the full brunt of the cost..”
Although a lost of news has broken recently about price transparency companies -- at least four companies have announced new features or launches this year -- some companies, like Castlight have been working in this space for much longer. These eight companies all offer price transparency services.
Medlio has launched an app that will act as a virtual insurance card and enables users to see their health insurance benefits information, including as co-pays and deductible balances; a map to find doctors, hospitals and pharmacies near the user’s location; an appointment check-in service on the app; and another portal to pay for appointments. The company's cost transparency tool, called Common Cents, has not launched yet.
Brooks also hopes to one day replace the merchant services that are currently in place at doctor’s offices through a partnership with companies like Paypal or Square and monetize Medlio through transactional fees. While these merchant services probably charge doctors three to five percent in transaction costs, Brooks estimates if Medlio had a partner, he could charge three percent, if not less.