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Health plan launches cost-calculator tool

February 25, 2015
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Health plan launches cost-calculator tool
The web-based health care Cost Estimator tool can also be accessed via a mobile app. Courtesy Priority Health

A health plan has launched a web-based tool for its members to calculate their anticipated costs to find the most-affordable services.

Priority Health in Grand Rapids said yesterday that it has released its Cost Estimator, which is also accessible via the health plan's mobile app.

Cost Estimator

Members can calculate the costs of more than 300 types of procedures, based on their plan coverage, while selecting their preferred facility and physician.

The Cost Estimator will provide quality of care and cost information on the provider selected for a range of procedures: X-rays, lab testing, magnetic resonance imaging, surgeries and more.

Based on the individual’s specific plan coverage, if the combination of procedure, physician and facility is considered high cost, the tool provides alternative combinations that are more affordable.

Amy Miller, public relations and social media manager at Priority Health, said the organization developed the tool over roughly six months and received really positive feedback from the soft launch conducted in January.

“They can actually see what their out-of-pocket costs are going to be before they seek care,” Miller said. “It drills down to what health care plan, deductible and how much they can expect to pay out-of-pocket. With more individuals with high-deductible plans, it means more from their personal finances.”

Transparency tools

Priority Health also recently introduced the Healthcare Bluebook in 2014 to provide members access to the true costs of health care. The cost-transparency tool allows users to compare information on cost and quality of health care services across the state.

With the addition of the Cost Estimator, Miller said it is one more step in the direction of providing transparent cost information to Priority Health members.

“I see this as a 2.0 to Healthcare Bluebook. It is the next evolution,” Miller said. “This is part of a larger effort where we are focusing on health care transparency.”

Joan Budden, chief marketing officer at Priority Health, said the health care industry needs to "continue to find new ways to engage individuals in their health."

“Engaging members in the prevention and treatment of their health is the only way we are going to be able to truly create better health outcomes, improve patient care and in the long term, drive lower health care costs,” Budden said.

Priority Health

Priority Health serves people in 65 counties in lower Michigan with a network of more than 27,000 health care providers and more than 110 acute-care hospitals.

Priority Health operates additional offices in Holland, Traverse City and Southfield.

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