How would you feel if you were expected to buy a car, a television or even a meal, without knowing first how much it will cost you? Confused? Helpless? Frustrated?
Unfortunately, that’s exactly how many of us feel when we’re faced with planning a medical test or procedure. We have no idea how much an MRI or a series of blood tests will cost – much less a medical procedure or surgery. This makes a stressful situation even harder to navigate. And if the stress wasn’t enough, lack of health care pricing transparency costs our country more than $100 billion every year. As they say in Washington: that’s real money.
Why is this happening? Because health care is the last frontier of pricing secrecy.
We’ve decided it’s time to change that.
Better data, better decisions
At Blue Cross NC, we pay thousands of health care claims every day. And with all those claims comes reams of data. Useful data. Data that might change the way people shop for health care if they had access to it.
Our data is now public. Everyone in North Carolina, whether they are our customers or not, are able to quickly search for common procedures like MRIs, knee replacements or hernia repairs and see how that cost compares between nearby hospitals.
For example, if you live in the Triangle and need a knee replacement, the price you pay could vary by as much as $21,000. Talk about real money!
All told, the tool will includes 400 non-emergency and elective procedures. This robust database means consumers have the opportunity to make more informed decisions about how they spend money on health care. And it helps tackle the problem of rising health care costs by preventing consumers for paying more when they don’t have to.
How does the new tool work?
- The new tool allows you to search user-friendly terms, like “back” or “neck,” to find related elective procedures and their costs.
- It also provides side-by-side cost comparisons based on our broad-network plans, Blue Advantage and Blue Options.
- The tool is mobile friendly, so you can use it anywhere.
Get quality and cost data all in one place
The cost estimator tool allows all North Carolinians, including Blue Cross NC customers, to compare the cost and quality of medical procedures. That means you can see which doctors and hospitals are in-network, and choose the ones that rank highest for the procedure you’re planning.
For members only: Log into Blue Connect so that your plan is taken into account when viewing the procedures. The tool will then estimate your out-of-pocket costs based on your health insurance plan and deductible balance. That means fewer surprises when the bills start to hit the mailbox.
Bottom line: Facing a surgery or an imaging procedure can be stressful enough already. When you’re armed with cost information up front, you can take charge and take at least some of the uncertainty out of the equation. We think that’s a step in the right direction.
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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in its health programs and activities. Learn more about our non-discrimination policy and no-cost services available to you.
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