Above all, healthcare consumers want an accurate understanding of what they’ll owe for services, before they’re rendered. Consumers are still coming to terms with their increasing financial responsibility fo healthcare costs, but it’s a role they are taking on more assertively. More and more consumers ask their doctors and hospitals for cost estimates.
For this reason, providers may want to offer price estimates for common point-of-entry procedures like MRIs. Indeed, a provider may risk turning off a new patient if they do not offer price estimates for these more “shoppable” procedures.
A calculator that healthcare consumers can access from the provider’s website, however, is in step with the modern way of accessing all sorts of information —especially if the calculator is simple to use and generates answers fast. To that end, consumers shouldn’t have to input more than their names, insurance plan numbers and perhaps two or three more data elements to receive an accurate estimate within 10 to 45 seconds.
Providers can also better predict cash flow, know how much to keep in reserve for contractual adjustments and make other financial decisions that were previously constrained by lack of insight into projected revenue.
Such a tool neatly solves one of the most persistent challenges with implementing price transparency: making proprietary financial information public. As a provider-facing solution, and because patient-unique information does need to be entered to generate an estimate, not just anyone can use the calculators. This is vastly preferable to putting a list of total charges or paid amounts out there for all competitors to see, which neither reflects negotiated rates with payers or the patient’s accurate out-of-pocket costs.
At the same time, self-service price calculators appeal to today’s information-driven patients and nicely align with how they already seek pricing on other purchases, from airfare to mortgages.
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