MINNETONKA, Minn. (June 5, 2012) – UnitedHealthcare has launched myHealthcare Cost Estimator, an integrated online service that brings a retail shopping experience to healthcare and helps consumers find quality care while being able to estimate the cost of more than 100 common treatments and procedures with maximum accuracy. Estimates also are personalized to reflect an individual’s own health plan benefits, including their real-time account balances when applicable.
The new online service is more precise than calculators that may only rely on old claims data, and often from only a handful of employers. myHealthcare Cost Estimator, available to more than 14 million people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare health benefits plans, draws on the company’s actual contracted rates with physicians, hospitals, clinics and other health care providers in 47 markets, giving consumers highly accurate pricing estimates.
“myHealthcare Cost Estimator meets a longstanding consumer need for thorough but simple online comparison shopping for health care by putting relevant information right at people’s fingertips,” said Yasmine Winkler, chief product and marketing officer, UnitedHealthcare. “myHealthcare Cost Estimator enables people to make better care decisions, by better understanding their treatment options, comparing services, and anticipating future costs.”
By building “care paths,” the online tool creates a comprehensive view of what the consumer should expect throughout their course of treatment, from the time they first visit the doctor, to the test or procedure, and all the way through to physical therapy or any necessary follow-up care. Quality and cost information is directly connected to in-network hospitals and physicians, and alternate treatment options are provided so consumers can have an informed conversation with their physician.
Collaboration with care providers is critically important when building cost estimators and other consumer support tools to ensure they enhance the overall patient experience – and accurately portray expected costs and treatment options – rather than putting unnecessary focus on just costs.
“UnitedHealthcare’s myHealthcare Cost Estimator is the kind of innovation that can enhance access to quality care by helping people become more savvy health care consumers,” said Clint Hailey, chief managed care officer, Tenet Healthcare. “Transparency in quality and cost information is key to not only empowering individual patients and their families, but also helping to improve our nation’s health care system.”
Key features include:
• Cost estimates for more than 47 geographic areas covering more than 100 different treatments and procedures, such as surgeries, lab tests, radiology tests and office visits;
• Ability to compare quality and cost information for 240,000 different physicians and hospitals;
• Cost estimates that are tailored to a plan participant’s specific benefits plan design that identify what will be owed out-of-pocket, costs that will be paid by their employer, and real-time account balances available in an eligible health care account to pay toward the expenses;
• Ability to assemble cost estimates by matching physicians with the specific facilities where they practice;
• Presentation of common alternate treatment options to educate patients on their choices; and
• Educational information about how their benefits work and how costs are determined.
The tool provides estimates based on available fee schedules and actual contracted rates with care providers, and if that information is not available estimates are based on previous claims with the care provider. myHealthcare Cost Estimator builds on the success of UnitedHealthcare’s Treatment Cost Estimator, which was created more than five years ago to help consumers understand how costs differ from doctor to doctor and comparison shop for health services.