|Blue Cross Plans Join In Initiative To Increase Transparency
Six Blue Cross plans around the country have joined to
collaborate on providing online access to a health care cost
information tool. WellPoint developed the ‘tool’ called
The participating health plans are Blue Cross and Blue
Shield Of Texas, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Health Care Service
Corporation (HCSC operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in
Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas), and WellPoint.
"We are pleased to have reached our goal of creating
opportunities for an even greater number of members to have easy access
to clear, concise health cost information in major cities nationwide,
which can ultimately help drive down health care costs through
information and awareness," said Darren Rodgers, president, Blue Cross
and Blue Shield of Texas.
WellPoint developed the transparency tool in 2006 for
use by members in its health plans, "with the goal of creating
well-informed consumers of health care," said Angela Braly, president
and CEO, WellPoint Inc.
Organizers of the effort say the easy-to-access, online
tool, will serve more than 48 million consumers who will have access to
cost information which will help plan members increase their knowledge
as consumers of health care, and identify ways to spend their health
care dollars more wisely.
"One of the most important ways that we as health
insurers can add value to the health care system is by analyzing and
providing access to meaningful information," said Dr. Paul Handel,
chief medical officer for HCSC.
Officials said the Care Comparison online tool will provide the following information:
- Total estimated cost ranges associated with approximately 35 specific medical procedures.
- Costs are for procedures performed at more than 2,800
local hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, free-standing radiology
facilities or other medical facilities.
- Cost ranges are facility-specific so members can compare the differences in costs between area facilities.
- Ranges of health care cost information that will initially be rolled out on a limited basis in each of these states.
- Estimated cost ranges based on combining related
services typically performed at each facility at the time of the
procedure, not just the procedure itself.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), the
trade association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies,
also selected Care Comparison as its platform for a national
transparency solution that will be made available to all Blue Plans.
BCBSA said it will use the treatment categories and cost methodology as
the core component for its consumer-facing cost estimation tool.
Addresses: WellPoint Inc., 120 Monument Circle, Indianapolis, IN 46204; (317) 532-6000, www.wellpoint.com. Health Care Service Corporation, 300 East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601; (312) 653-6000, www.HCSC.com. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, P.O. Box 1798, Jacksonville, FL 32231-0014; www.bcbsfl.com. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, 901 S. Central Expressway, Richardson, TX 75080; (972) 766-6900, www.bcbstx.com.