Empowering healthcare consumers: FAIR Health online tools shed light on healthcare costs
By Robin Gelburd
Recent survey reports have shown that current economic uncertainty and continued unemployment are compelling millions of Americans to delay or forgo medical and dental treatments.
Consumers concerned about healthcare expenses should be able to find out the cost of procedures or treatments in advance of seeing a doctor – regardless of whether or not they are insured. And, if consumers are insured, they should be able to determine if their doctors are in their insurance plans’ networks.
This is where the not-for-profit organization, FAIR Health, comes in. FAIR Health was created to bring transparency to healthcare costs and out-of-network reimbursement. FAIR Health created a free tool that gives consumers access to estimated costs of medical and dental treatments based on insurance status, level of insurance, and geographic area.
How does FAIR Health do this? FAIR Health maintains a database with records for more than 13 billion de-identified, private healthcare procedures from the last ten years. The database reflects the healthcare claims experience of more than 125 million people covered be private health insurance, making it the largest such data resource in the nation that is owned and overseen by an independent, third-party organization.
FAIR Health receives the data directly from private insurance companies, who remove all identifying patient information before sending us the billing codes, costs, and locations of procedures. FAIR Health works to ensure that the data are objective and reliable by applying a robust auditing and validation process that is guided by prominent statisticians, healthcare economists, and researchers.
Since the launch of the Medical and Dental Cost Lookup Tools last year, these resources have been used by consumers to obtain costs estimates before visiting a doctor’s office or undergoing medical or dental treatment; while at a doctor’s office as part of a negotiation over the price of a procedure; and during the appeals process with their insurance company over an out-of-network reimbursement.
FAIR Health encourages consumers to use these helpful tools as they make healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. And, as FAIR Health is always trying to improve its site, send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robin Gelburd is president of FAIR Health.