Aetna offers payment estimator

December 12, 2012 in Member Stories

Here at Aetna, we read with great interest, Martha Bebinger’s story chronicling her difficulties in finding the price of an MRI at different health care facilities in her area.  As Martha notes, it is difficult for consumers to “shop around” or make “wise choices” on health care decisions when they can’t find the price of a service.

We agree, and have been working to make that price information available for the last decade. Through free member tools like our Aetna Member Payment Estimator, we provide cost information for more than 550 commonly used, non-emergency medical services, including traditional or C-section births, colonoscopies, MRIs and CT scans. Members can compare up to 10 cost estimates at a time for the selected procedure in a geographic area, so they can see cost differences among different health care providers. Better still, the Member Payment Estimator gives members a personal picture of the costs by providing real-time out-of-pocket cost estimates based on a member’s benefits plan.

Our members use this tool more than 70,000 times per month, each keeping as much as $170 in their own pockets after comparing costs on more than 30 common procedures. In 2011, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recognized the Member Payment Estimator as the only tool from a private health insurance company that “provides estimates of a consumer’s complete cost.”

Our free online tools like the MPE are an important beginning, but the Health Information Technology innovations Aetna is unleashing will take transparency and convenience much further. For example, our free iTriage app lets users research their symptoms, find a medical provider that best serves their personal needs and is available when and where they need them, and book an appointment — all from their smartphone. More than 8 million Americans are already using iTriage, making it one of the most downloaded health and fitness apps in both the iTunes® App store and Android™ Market.

We know that we need more transparency and convenience in health care to help inform consumers, enable them to live healthier lives, and reduce health care costs. We are committed to improving the tools and resources that we offer to Aetna members and all consumers to make a more transparent and effective health care system a reality.

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