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Health-care costs made transparent


Nebraska-based Alegent Health has taken a step to help make consumers more informed about the cost and quality of the health care they receive. The nine-hospital system in Nebraska and Iowa has launched My Cost, which provides information on the projected costs for nearly 500 treatments and procedures, including the consumer's out-of-pocket expenditure. The system takes into account a consumer's insurance plan and personal coverage choices, and provides information about financial assistance programs for the uninsured.

"While we're not the first in the nation to address the need for greater transparency in healthcare pricing, we believe our system represents an important innovation for the industry because it takes an important step in completing the healthcare value equation with personally relevant information: your actual cost + quality = value," wrote Alegent CEO Wayne Sensor in a commentary in Modern Healthcare (4/30/2007).

He notes that, since the My Cost system was launched in January, nearly 15,000 cost estimates have been calculated and users have praised it as a "much-needed service." Sensor hopes that consumers will use the system to become more engaged in their health care-a practice that he believes could lead to better health and lower costs.