The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), a non-profit organization, has launched a price transparency website, called Guroo, to help consumers find national, state, and local pricing information for common health conditions and services. The data is collected from 40 million anonymized members of four health insurers: Aetna, Assurant Health, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare.
“For many consumers, shopping for health care doesn’t feel like an option -- it’s simply too complicated," HCCI Executive Director David Newman said in a statement. "Guroo intends to change this by showing consumers they can shop for health care and elect where they spend their health care dollars. With rising prices and more consumers enrolled in high-deductible health plans, consumers are eager to get the best value out of every dollar they spend on health care.”
Consumers can use Guroo to view estimated costs of treatment options for various conditions, like childbirth, knee pain, and asthma. The estimates available are based on how much insurers and providers have paid providers for these services in the past. Users will be able to compare these health services in different geographic areas to find where they are most affordable.
For example, if a consumer wants to search for the differences in average prices for a knee MRI on the national, state, and local level, they would learn that the national average is $681, the statewide average in Wisconsin is $1,912, and the local cost in Madison, Wisconsin is $2,511.
HCCI is working to build out Guroo by adding cost data for more conditions' treatment options.
The HCCI first launched this price transparency initiative in May 2014. At the time of launch, HCCI was only working with Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare.
In the past year, insurance companies have also started adding price transparency features to their websites and apps for members.
Earlier this month, Aetna quietly updated its iTriage app by adding price comparison features for select users. According to the app’s iTunes description, as of the latest update “members of select insurance carriers can see estimated cost of care for procedures.” An “Average Cost” tab has been added to the Procedures section of the app, but currently bears a “check back soon” message that says Aetna will tap Healthcare Blue Book for pricing information.
Last year, UnitedHealthcare announced at CES 2014 that the company would launch an online appointment booking system for UnitedHealthgroup members. The system, which is called myEasyBook, allows users of high-deductible healthcare plans (such as those linked to Health Savings Accounts or Health Reimbursement Accounts) to go online and compare the costs of different available providers in their network. The software calculates the out-of-pocket price to the user based on his or her insurance information and searches multiple providers by condition.