Hospital paying patients for insurance information

From the Akron Beacon Journal, “Alliance Community Hospital wants to pay you $100 or more to find out how much your health insurer paid for care you received at rival hospitals.”

Hospital’s stated motivation:

Alliance Community Hospital Chief Executive Stan Jonas said the offer is part of the hospital’s attempt to provide consumers with more information about the true cost of medical services.

The hospital plans to share the information eventually on a new Web site.

”We feel that consumers should be able to compare prices before they buy health-care services,” Jonas said. ”We are doing this because we want to prove our value in the marketplace and to provide meaningful comparisons with our own pricing, as well. So in order to help inform consumers, we are seeking information about procedures performed at other hospitals.”

Typical insurer response:

”To the best of my knowledge, this appears to be a new type of initiative,” said Richard Waldron, director of provider networks for Medical Mutual of Ohio. ”While we support the concept of transparency, this initiative seems problematic. Looking through EOBs from unrelated facilities poses issues of data collection, interpretation and validity. Moreover, there may be numerous legal issues inherent in such an effort.”

It would be terrific if transparency is the true motivation. But a hospital isn’t going to shell out that kind of money just so patients can compare prices between hospitals. I have a feeling a competitive market is at least a factor in the decision…

This gem also from the article, “In recent years, ”transparency” has become a buzzword in the medical industry as patients are being forced to foot a higher percentage of the bill.”

Ahh, shouldn’t high quality care be reason number one for transparency?

UPDATE: InsureBlog covers the story and adds a tidbit I was too careless to find: the hospital’s CEO has a blog.

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