Pricing Information Now Expected by Alegent Consumers
by Nancy Vessell
When Alegent Creighton Health introduced the first online calculator enabling consumers to find their out-of-pocket costs for many procedures, the novelty attracted national attention to this Omaha, NE, innovator. Some 20,000 people logged on in 2007 to see what they would be billed to have a baby or a nose job or one of hundreds of other procedures, tests, or services.
Six-and-a-half years later, the “window shoppers” have largely dropped away, but 10,000 cost estimates a year still are provided through the My Cost tool at www.alegentcreighton.com, reports Trent Booher, Alegent’s chief financial officer of managed care.
Booher’s job is to make sure the cost estimates provided to consumers are based on accurate rates allowed by the various insurance plans accepted by the organization. That’s an activity worth the effort, he explains, because Alegent may reduce a consumer’s bill for services if a lower estimate was given incorrectly. That happens rarely, he adds.
While other hospitals and systems have begun to provide more information about the price of services, Alegent still is unique in that the price estimate is customized to each consumer’s insurance plan and personal financial circumstances. It also links to an application that allows an uninsured consumer to apply for financial assistance prior to receiving services.