Health insurer enhances Treatment Cost Estimator tool allowing members to forecast out-of-pocket costs for select provider services
PORTLAND, OR -- Knowing and understanding the cost of a medical procedure before it takes place helps people to be more than health care users – it helps them become informed health care consumers, according to Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon.
The company has unveiled an enhancement to its Treatment Cost Estimator tool on its interactive Web site – myRegence.com – which provides out-of-pocket costs on common procedures and services for Oregon-based Regence members. It also allows those members to compare those costs between different health care providers.
The original Treatment Cost Estimator was geared toward selected services and procedures, and out-of-pocket costs were available to only a small percentage of Regence members. The enhancement allows all Oregon-based Regence members (excluding Regence MedAdvantage and Clark County, Wash.,-based members) to find out their out-of-pocket costs in a real-time Web-based platform.
“The lack of accurate, comparable information about the cost of medical care is one of the primary drivers of system inefficiency and questions about value,” said Ralph Prows, M.D., senior medical director at Regence. “Without it, patients and their physicians are left ill-informed about the cost impacts of their health care decisions, some of which may be borne by the patients themselves.”
Common treatments and services included in the enhancement include:
• Vaginal delivery with no complications
• Digestive system endoscopy
• Diagnostic radiology and imaging
• Orthopedic-musculoskeletal surgery
• Diagnostic pathology and laboratory procedures
The tool has launched early, before the July 1 effective date mandated by Oregon House Bill 2213 signed into law in 2007. The bill requires insurers to provide members with reasonable, individualized, out-of-pocket cost estimates for certain medical services.
“Regence believes that informed patients make better decisions and are more likely to be active participants in their own health care,” Prows said.
Additional features on myRegence.com include the member reviews feature where members can rate recent provider visits or services; enhancements to the provider search feature where members can search and compare providers based on self-reported physicians data including patient demographics, specialties, awards and more; and the Treatment Cost Estimator feature that allows members to look up network average costs for common treatments and services.
Background on myRegence.com
myRegence.com is designed to help advise members on health care and lifestyle options, provide navigation through the health care system and reward those who make healthier choices. With myRegence.com, members can find all of their health-related resources in one place, including claims information, fitness and nutrition tips, medication summaries and other helpful information. Members can even earn Regence Reward points —redeemable for gift certificates to hundreds of retailers — just for actively taking charge of their health.
About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is a leading health plan in Oregon, with nearly one million members, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence is the largest health insurer in the Northwest / Intermountain Region, serving three million members as Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueShield (in Washington), Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield of Idaho. Each plan is a not-for-profit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is committed to improving the health of our members and our communities, and to transforming our health care system. For more information, please visit www.regence.com.