More startup companies are offering online resources for employers and individuals to find and compare the costs of medical services, Bloomberg reports.
Examples of Online Medical Cost Resources
Some of the health care cost comparison websites that have launched in the past five years include Castlight Health, HealthcareBlueBook.com, ClearCost Health, OutOfPocket.com and Change Healthcare.
Castlight Health markets its services to companies with self-insured health plans. It charges a monthly fee to let those companies and their employees look up costs of services for doctors, clinical labs and hospitals.
Giovanni Colella, co-founder of Castlight Health, said that by allowing consumers to compare the costs of medical services, Castlight has helped the companies save between 3% and 5% of their baseline costs.
OutOfPocket.com, another health care cost comparison site, is funded by online advertising and offers its services at no cost. The website provides user-submitted data on medical prices, as well as supplemental pricing data from Medicare and other sources.
Barriers to Widespread Use of Sites
Experts note that several challenges are hindering more widespread use of health care cost comparison websites, such as:
- Few consumers contributing medical pricing information;
- Difficulties making direct price comparisons between certain medications, tests and types of services; and
- Concerns that publicly posting the data will prompt some lower-cost health care providers to raise their prices (Flinn, Bloomberg, 5/21).