The Everett Clinic pushes for pricing transparency

Starting this week, patients of The Everett Clinic will be able to look up the cost of their procedures online. In a bold move toward price transparency, the network’s 25 primary care and speciality clinics, will begin posting their fees in a list found on the clinic’s website. Consumers may look up the prices for everything from dialysis to general surgery.

Prices are listed for self pay fees or with a 25 percent prompt pay incentive.

The move towards consumer-oriented healthcare is a continuation of a project that began in May of this year. Initially, the clinic made news by posting the prices of basic imaging procedures such as x-rays and MRIs.

“Health care costs are too high and patients can’t make wise decisions without transparency of prices,” said Rick Cooper, Everett Clinic CEO, in an interview with mynorthwest. Cooper believes that demystifying the payment system will force health care providers to be more competitive and less wasteful.

“Medical service costs can vary greatly among providers in the same geographic region. In many situations, the quality of care and outcomes are unrelated to costs, meaning patients may be paying more but not necessarily receiving better care,” Cooper said.

In the past, Washington lawmakers have been supportive of consumer transparency in the health care industry. This spring, it approved SB 6228 which called for insurance companies to offer customers a tool on the carrier’s webpage which would allow them to compare cost and quality. This measure must take effect by 2016.

Another transparency measure, HB 2572 which called for the creation of a publicly accessible statewide database with information and limited price data on health care providers in Washington was killed when Premera Blue Cross and Regence Blue Shield argued that such a database would raise patient privacy concerns.

While self pay rates are determined by the clinic’s consumer price list, pricing can vary by insurance carrier.