One of the largest health care systems in the state has released an online “cost estimator” tool it says will provide greater price transparency in the murky world of medical billing.
On Wednesday, UNC Health unveiled its new online tool, saying the goal is to “improve transparency for consumers who struggle with rising medical costs, and provide more information to help inform their medical care and decisions.”
“UNC Health is a leader in providing innovative care and services for our patients,” CEO Dr. Wesley Burks said in a statement. “We understand the importance of price transparency in health care. This estimator is about improving our patients’ experience and giving them more control in managing their health.”
According to the system, the estimator is, for now, designed for “services such as office visits, simple procedures and some inpatient services.” Inpatient services include some at UNC Rex Health Care in Raleigh and UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill.
The company says future plans include expanding the services covered and adding more hospitals and clinics affiliated with UNC Health across the state.
At release, the service can provide estimates for out-of-pocket costs for 50 services, including cardiology, orthopedics, rehabilitation, sleep studies and some office visits.
The tool works through the system’s “My UNC Chart” application and website and automatically takes into account insurance benefits and other factors from a patient’s account to generate a cost estimate.
The service comes amid years of national and international concern about the inadequacies of health care billing in the U.S. with many complaining that its system leaves patients with no way to understand how much they’ll be billed until after the fact.
Price transparency also became a central topic after North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell launched a redesign of the state’s employee insurance plan following complaints about a lack of transparency with the major health systems in the state.
From the Triangle Business Journal:
Seth Thomas Gulledge
Triangle Business Journal