Empowering Health Care Consumers
June 2015 – February 2016
Now more than ever, there is a demand for cost transparency in health care.
One mechanism to offer greater transparency are cost estimator tools provided by health plans, which are commonly found on their websites. These cost estimator tools can be a valuable resource for plan members, giving them access to real-time price information of in-network providers and a sense of what they will have to pay for a service or procedure. In 2012, Massachusetts passed a law requiring that all insurance companies provide their members with estimated prices for health care services, a measure that other states, including New York, are considering. An advocacy coalition in Massachusetts published a report card of those tools in 2015, finding significant variation by health insurer. Although insurers’ cost estimator tools are a unique resource for price transparency, variation in quality suggests that access to the best price information may depend on one’s coverage. NYSHealth awarded Consumers Union a grant to assess health insurers’ cost estimator tools in New York State and identify how they can be improved.