Patrick administration unveils consumer healthcare transparency campaign
On October 14, officials from the Patrick Administration announced a healthcare transparency campaign aimed at educating consumers about new health insurance cost-estimator tools that allow them to shop around and compare prices of medical procedures.
“Access to affordable care gives peace of mind and economic security to working people and families; increases productivity for large and small employers alike; creates jobs and contributes to the strength of the Massachusetts economy,” said Governor Deval Patrick.
The “Get the Deal on Care” advertising campaign raises awareness of new health insurance cost-estimators, which allow Massachusetts consumers to compare the price of medical procedures before obtaining those services. The online tools are required as part of a transparency provision in the state’s 2012 landmark healthcare cost containment law.
“Price transparency has always been a cornerstone of a healthy marketplace,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki. “The Patrick Administration has been committed to changing the dynamic of how consumers and businesses purchase health care. Now more than ever, we as consumers are in the driver’s seat and can make better value decisions.”
The campaign website, GetTheDealOnCare.org, was developed in partnership with 13 Massachusetts health insurance companies and many Massachusetts’ employers, providers and consumer groups. The website includes information about the law’s requirements, and provides a link to each participating insurer’s online cost-estimator.
“Empowering consumers with pricing information is a necessary first step toward a patient-centered culture that will result in the more efficient delivery of lower-cost, higher quality healthcare services,” said Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony. “Armed with the missing piece of the puzzle — price — consumers can continue to consider quality, location, and other factors when selecting healthcare services.”
The law requires that, starting Oct. 1, 2014, health insurers provide an online cost-estimator that shows real-time information tailored to a member’s specific plan, taking into account information such as co-pay, deductible, and co-insurance. This way, a member searching for a common procedure, such as an MRI, or the cost of a visit to a dermatologist will be able to compare prices charged by different providers and make the best decision before the service is obtained.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished so far with 97 percent of our residents insured,” said Secretary for Administration and Finance Glen Shor. “By increasing transparency, consumers will be able to make informed decisions about their healthcare costs while accessing the best care.”
“This innovative project empowers patients to make the best decision about their health and holds the promise of driving down costs and improving the overall health of our populations,” Senate President Therese Murray said. “While this tool is still in the beginning phases, I am confident that its potential is far greater than we realize and I want to urge residents throughout the Commonwealth to use this information to take charge of their health.”
Cost-estimator tools are available online now from all insurers writing health insurance policies in Massachusetts. Consumers can find their tool by visiting their insurer’s website or at www.GetTheDealOnCare.org
The “Get the Deal on Care” campaign is also launching a social media campaign to further engage consumers. Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter, @TheDealOnCare, and join the conversation using #empowerHC.